It is known that an electrostatically charged object can repel or attract a flow of water. Can this also apply to an air flow? And if so, would it happen only due to the humidity via water molecules, or even dry air would be affected?

For example, if there is a metal grid inside a tube with flowing air, can its aerodynamic resistance be varied by applying high voltage to it?

  • $\begingroup$ A stream of water in air can certainly be attracted or repelled by an electrostatic charge, and so can a stream of air in water. However you're asking about a stream of air in air (and presumably about a stream of water in water), which is a completely different system. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie May 19 '15 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ Especially, since water has a high permeability, while air has not. A high voltage applied to a metal grid in a stream of water will also not modulate the flow. $\endgroup$ – Sebastian Riese May 19 '15 at 12:04

There have been attempts to use ionized air to reduce drag on aircraft

It's a generator that sends a beam of microwaves upstream into the Mach 6 flow, ripping apart the gas ahead of the model so that it is flying through a plasma--a boiling mix of positive ions and electrons--rather than ordinary gas.

The experiment, at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, tests a ground-breaking idea developed by Russian researchers during the Cold War. They discovered that injecting a few ions into the flow around a high-speed craft can dramatically reduce the drag it experiences.


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