Self-neutralizing air-breathing thruster and method of neutralization | The George Washington University

Self-neutralizing air-breathing thruster and method of neutralization

Case ID: 022-052-Keidar

An ion-engine is the cutting edge for atmospheric air-breathing engines.  The technology depends on ionizing and neutralizing atmospheric air particles which create thrust.  This unique possibility makes it an ideal choice for very-low-orbit satellites.  Very- low-orbit satellite capabilities have benefits such as higher resolution for images, weight reduction, and lower cost for payloads.

Researchers at George Washington University have developed an air-breathing plasma thruster, which ionizes and neutralizes the air particles at the same instant. The present state of the technology, ion-engine technology, requires a separate neutralizer to achieve thrust, but the new idea combines the process and eliminates the need for a neutralizer. This reduction in components reduces the payload for low orbit satellites as well as reduces the complexity of the thruster.


  • Very-low-earth satellite technology
  • Ion-Engine development


  • Reduction of payload size
  • Reduction in cost
  • Eliminates the need for propellant storage tanks
  • Increases the services life of the satellite

Patent Information:

Title App Type Country Patent No. File Date Issued Date Patent Status
Self-neutralizing Air-breathing Plasma Thruster US Utility *United States of America   6/16/2023   Filed

For Information, Contact:

Michael Harpen
Licensing Manager
George Washington University


Michael Keidar
Anmol Taploo
Li Lin