Biefeld-Brown effect

From Academic Kids

The Biefeld-Brown effect is an effect that was discovered by Thomas Townsend Brown (USA) and Dr. Paul Alfred Biefeld (CH). The effect is more widely referred to as electrohydrodynamics (EHD) or sometimes electro-fluid-dynamics, a counterpart to the well-known magneto-hydrodynamics.


Effect analysis

The effect relies on corona discharge, which allows atoms to become ionized near sharp points and edges – this belief is perpetuated in the construction of pointy lightning rods historically (though rounded or spherical topped rods are better than the pointed rods). Usually, two electrodes are used with a high voltage between them, about 20kV and up to megavolt levels, where one electrode is small or sharp, and the other larger and smoother. The most effective distance between electrodes is 1mm to each thousand volts. This creates a high field gradient around the smaller, positively charged electrode. Around this electrode, electrons are stripped off the atoms in the surrounding medium, they are literally pulled right off by the electrode's charge. The electrons quickly move to the electrode, and are driven to the negative electrode by the voltage.

This leaves a cloud of positively charged ions in the medium, which are attracted to the negative electrode. This also drags along some of the surrounding medium, causing what is known as ion wind, which creates a breeze of considerably greater magnitude than the ions themselves account for. This effect can be used for propulsion (see Lifter) and fluid pumps.


The effect has become something of a cause célèbre in the UFO world, where it is seen as an example of something much more exotic than electrokinetics. Charles Berlitz devoted an entire chapter of his book The Philadelphia Experiment to a retelling of Brown's early work with the effect, implying he had discovered some new electrogravity effect being used by UFOs. In fact Brown was fully aware of how the device worked, but that makes for a less interesting story. Today the internet is filled with sites devoted to this interpretation of the effect (see below for some of the more profound sites).

An article by M. Tajmar (see below, or a summary ( describes an experiment designed to test the possibility that this effect may need some other effect than ion winds for its explanation. No such effect was found, to the limit of experimental accuracy. In particular, no thrust could be observed in a vacuum. A naval research lab, however, concluded in several repeated experiments a net thrust was apparent in vacuum. Neither of these tests were peer-reviewed, and therefore credibility can be given to neither.

Some people think that the Tesla coil might be related to this effect. In fact, when Tesla came to the USA he was supposedly carrying plans for a "flying machine". The only common factor between a Tesla coil and the Biefeld-Brown effect is that, in both of them, high voltage plays a vital role. The Tesla effect, or high field gradients between electrode plates, can be produced by an AC circuit powered by Tesla coils.


T. T. Brown issued a number of patents on his discovery:

  • GB300311 ( - A method of and an apparatus or machine for producing force or motion (accepted 1928-11-15)
  • US1974483 ( - Electrostatic motor (1934-09-25)
  • US2949550 ( - Electrokinetic apparatus (1960-08-16)
  • US3018394 ( - Electrokinetic transducer (1962-01-23)
  • US3022430 ( - Electrokinetic generator (1962-02-20)
  • US3187206 ( - Electrokinetic apparatus (1965-06-01)
  • US3196296 ( - Electric generator (1965-07-20)

Historically numerous patents have been granted for various applications of the effect, from electrostatic dust precipitation, to air ionisers, and also for flight. A particularly notable patent US3120363 ( was granted to G.E. Hagen in 1964, for apparatus more or less identical to the later so called 'lifters' devices. Other ionic US patents of interest: 2022465, 2182751, 2282401, 2295152, 2460175, 2636664, 2765975, 3071705, 3177654, 3223038, 3120363, 3130945

External links


  • Tajmar M. Biefeld–Brown Effect: Misinterpretation of Corona Wind Phenomena, AIAA Journal, 1 February 2004, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 315-318(4), [1] (
  • Buehler D.R. Exploratory Research on the Phenomenon of the Movement of High Voltage Capacitors, Journal of Space Mixing, April 2004, vol. 2, pp. 1-22, [2] (

Patent resources


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