‘IRON MAN’ Tech in Reality: Thrusters

I watched Iron Man series recently and I thought what if we could see something like this in reality using some math and physics. The answer came pretty quickly. It was only a matter of some clicks before I got it. It’s interesting to note that it’s only a matter of 10 years and you get to see some of those technologies which didn’t exist back then. It’s like a dream come true in front of your eyes. Let’s go through some of the technologies of iron man which made their way into the real world.

Iron Man Thruster

Iron man thrusters explained in real life
A still from Avengers: Infinity War. Source

You must have seen iron man taking off directly from the ground with his powerful thruster. But how is this possible in real life? To some extent it is possible. A company named ‘Gravity Industries‘ founded by Richard Browning makes this possible.

Gravity Jet Suit

In order to accomplish flight like iron man suit, they use a Jet Suit which is called ‘Gravity Jet Suit‘ with 5 turbines, 144 kg engine with a capacity of 120,000 RPM and a flight time up to 8 minutes. It holds a speed record of 136.891 kph according to the company. The fuel used in this jet suit is ‘kerosene'(Jet A1) or Diesel. You can see the image of the suit above.

Source: Gravity

Let’s understand how it works. It works on the basic principles of Aerodynamics as well as Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Aerodynamics is a branch of physics which deals with the study of air (which is a fluid) and its interaction with different objects. We are not going much deeper in that because it includes Bernoulli’s principle and some other stuff.

Let’s talk about different types of forces which govern this tech. Remember those old school days when you learnt Newton’s Laws of Motion. Now it’s time to apply that. Three forces play an important role in making this possible:-

  • Thrust
  • Gravity
  • Air Resistance

Thrust is a force provided by the jet engines of the suit to oppose the gravitational force of the Earth. Thrust and gravity are kind of enemies of each other. They decrease the effect of one another. For example, the acceleration due to gravity is roughly around 9.8 m/s^2 or we can say that gravitational force of earth is 9.8 N/kg. For simplification take it 10 N/kg. If a person having mass as 70 kg has to fly using this tech then the gravitational force acting on him will be 700 N (Newton). In order to counter-balance this force, thrust equal to 700 N must be provided to the person to keep him stable (in equilibrium).

If the thrust is more than 700 N, the velocity of the person will increase upwards and if it is less than 700 N, velocity will decrease. It’s like a tug-of-war between the thrust and gravity.

The role of air resistance is also to decrease the velocity and in order to avoid that the aircrafts are streamlined. Torque also plays a major role but we’ll not go much deeper into that.

But all this is not possible without a peculiar thing. That’s Human Balance. The way you are standing or sitting right now is controlled by your Vestibular system. The balancing you achieve on a two wheeler is also done by this system in-built in you. Your inner ear, eyes, muscles and joints send signal to your brain about your position through vestibular system.

‘Gravity Industries’ states that,“Gravity Jet suit flying training takes time to learn the new muscle movements required to balance. With enough practice, flying a Gravity Jet suit becomes as natural as walking or running.”

This is not the only tech that became a reality. There are many other technologies which I will cover in upcoming parts of this blog post. This is PART 1. Check out PART 2 here. Next time if someone tells you to fly like Iron Man, say to them that you can. Also if you want a greater insight on how it’s done, check out the video below. That’s all for now. See you soon in the next blog post, till then WASH YOUR HANDS.

A video by Gravity Industries on YouTube.

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