Lifters are balsa wood and aluminum foil devices that levitate when powered by high voltage electricity. They are easy to build and fun to play with. I built one a few years ago and it works as claimed. However those who claim this is antigravity are mistaken. It demonstrates only a charged air phenomenon. Air molecules at the top electrode are charged and become attracted to the neutral or opposite charged bottom electrode, thereby generating wind and thrust. In vacuum, they do not produce lift; see this link for proof.
Lifters are not new…various patents for ion wind devices go back to the 1950s, but it is only within the past five years that their popularity has increased due to new ways of constructing them more easily. Their ease of construction and demonstration is both positive and negative. On the one hand, there’s now an easy way of experimenting with a novel technology. On the other hand, there is danger of getting carried away with overestimations of its implications, similar to how certain orgonite research has lost touch with reality but remained popular due to the excitement factor and ease of construction. Gullible acceptance of runaway speculation can lead to quixotic efforts.
The lifter technology is very close to that pioneered by Townsend Brown. In fact, Brown holds a couple patents on moving fluids or gases using high voltage fields. Today we find these in desktop air ionizers. People debate whether Brown’s antigravity discs were powered by ion wind…but his tests indicated that unlike the lifters, they do indeed show thrust in vacuum. That is because they are capacitors operating on one to three hundred kilovolts, enough to generate a real electrogravitational field. Yes there is some ion wind involved, but even in the absence of air they move.
Asymmetry amplifies both the charged air and electrogravitic effects, although it is strictly the latter that allows certain devices to function in vacuum. The earliest device Brown invented was a long parallel plate capacitor called a gravitator — these were insulated from the air and entirely self-contained, and they showed significant thrust. Brown even tested them inside grounded barrels of oil and they functioned as before. His later gravitators employed nonlinear electric fields, but these within solid dielectric blocks. For some reason, those debating the ion wind effect in Brown’s devices neglect to bring up the gravitators, or worse, think that lifters with their relatively low voltages are demonstrating the biefeld-brown effect.
Anyway, the point is that lifters are often over-hyped. They do deserve attention for their novelty and the sheer excitement of experimentation, but they do not demonstrate electrogravitational effects. If anything, they should motivate people into experimenting with the real stuff. So if you are experimenting with lifters, have fun but keep in mind that there are other devices, such as Townsend Brown’s gravitator cells, that do exhibit discernable antrigravity. See Brown’s British patent for construction details. I also have an article on the biefeld-brown effect.
Lastly, do not use a Van de Graaf generator to power a gravitator — the microamp currents are too weak to overcome capacitor leakage, therefore you must use a flyback transformer plus cockroft-walton voltage multiplier to get at least 100kV at currents in the half to two milliamp range (200kV is ideal). Be forewarned: high voltage capacitors are deadly and retain their charge for a long time after power is removed. The only thing holding people back from this line of research is money – decent high voltage power sources cost over a thousand dollars, but can be built from parts for a couple hundred. Lifters are comparatively cheaper to make and operate.
Note: After publishing this research note, I received an email questioning my reasoning for understating the significance of lifters. Here is my reply (edited for typos):
August 29, 2005 :: I’m familiar with the physics of the lifter and the gravitator and know there is a subtle difference in principle between them, which is why I wrote my research note. The major difference is that lifters must be operated under a certain voltage, and gravitators above a certain voltage. Any idea why that might be? Because lifters operate in a mobile dielectric medium. Beyond a certain voltage you get corona and flashover, indicating that much energy must be imparted upon the medium without electrical discharge losses. This means lifters operate primarily by moving air rather than generating a gravitational field.
Yes, in lifters there is a very slight electrogravitational field due to the asymmetric electrode configuration, however this is negligible due to the relatively low voltages employed. All the pictures of floating lifters demonstrate not electrogravity, not the biefeld-brown effect, but rather the power of nitrogen ion drift current:
(see paragraph below equation 21)
Remember, the biefeld-brown effect was named not only after T.T. Brown but also Alfred Biefeld after their discovery that a large capacitor would jump when pulsed with an AC current. Biefeld had nothing to do with the wire-foil configurations Brown later patented. Brown’s original gravitator designs were enclosed to prevent all external ionization and leakage, and they worked in oil as well as in air and did not depend on moving air. They were not asymmetric, yet I know that asymmetry is only an amplifying factor. This I accidentally left out of my research note. Two parallel plate electrodes in vacuum given enough voltage will accelerate toward the positive electrode due solely to the time-field gradient established by their potential difference. You could call this a rarefaction and compaction in the ether due to the positive and negative charges.
The link above is an example of why I wrote the research note — the authors took lifters to be examples of the biefeld-brown effect when in truth that effect only dominates in gravitators and Brown’s larger disc-shaped devices. Lifters have a weak electrogravitational field but strong nitrogen ion drift, gravitators have a strong electrogravtational field but are designed to minimize ionic leakage. That’s where the confusion comes in: both overlap but overall there is still a critical difference. I don’t have a problem with either class of devices, only a problem with a certain device assigned to the wrong class.
More on the original gravitator:
Compare the following patents:
You can see the difference there in design. Both employ asymmetric electric fields. Asymmetry simply increases the “gradient in the divergence of the time-varying magnetic vector potential comprising the electric field” and this identically produces a gravitational field. But whereas the first relies mostly upon ion drift, the second tries harder to create nonlinear electric fields at higher voltages and even within nonlinear dielectrics where no air can move.
As for lifters in vacuum, I provided a link in my research notes:
There, a lifter was tested at typical lifter voltages (under 30kv) and failed to lift. When Townsend Brown talks about his devices working in vacuum, he’s talking mostly about those that generate nonlinear electric fields at much higher potentials. There’s a difference. So I hope this is clear now. Perhaps I didn’t explain myself well enough in the research note.