Horizon Europe Pathfinder, the European IPROP project

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Environmental issues are at the heart of ISAE-SUPAERO’s Research and Educational Resources Division’s strategy.
This commitment is reflected in our participation in IPROP, Ionic Propulsion in Atmosphere, one of Europe’s leading research projects on decarbonizing aviation.


The IPROP project, part of the Horizon Europe Pathfinder framework, aims to raise the level of maturity of atmospheric ion thrusters for aeronautics. Ion thrusters, with no moving parts, guarantee robustness and silent propulsion with low CO2 emissions.
IPROP’s initial aim is to develop optimized propulsion units and implement them on an ion-powered airship demonstrator. The ultimate aim is to design a full-scale, highly autonomous stratospheric airship using solar-powered ion thrusters.

pathinder 2

The work entrusted to ISAE-SUPAERO is of an experimental nature, supervised by Nicolas Binder of the Department of Aerodynamics and Propulsion (DAEP). In close partnership with the plasma laboratory at Ecole Polytechnique and the Toulouse Institute of Fluid Mechanics (IMFT), the aim is to explore the physics surrounding ion thrusters, when they are immersed in a high-speed flow. Direct measurements of the electric field in the zone of high ionic concentration (drift zone) are thus envisaged, which would be a major experimental achievement. Finally, advanced anode configurations to boost ionic concentration in the drift zone will be tested in the DAEP wind tunnel.

About the project

- European funding
Led by Marco Belan - Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi)

- ISAE-SUPAERO contribution
Led by Nicolas binder - DAEP

- List of partners:
Politecnico di Milano (It) / Universita Di Bologna (It) / Karlsruher Institut Fuer Tecnologie (Ger) / Von Kaman Institute (Bel) / ISAE-SUPAERO / CNRS (Institut de Mécaniques Fluides de Toulouse -IMFT + Lab Plasma X) / Technische Universität Dresden / Aeronord SAS

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