Dr. Patrick Neumann of the University of Sydney in Australia has developed a new and highly advanced ion drive that he claims will be able to outperform the very best NASA equivalent.
This particular ion drive is different from NASA and other offerings in that it works on a principle very similar to that of an arc-wielding machine. The device shoots a high-voltage electrical discharge across the surface of a propellant. Once completed, the plug vaporizes and generates a mixture of ions, electrons and vapors.
Dr. Neumann, who developed the engine as part of his PhD thesis, says that his new ion drive is more efficient than NASA's High Power Electric Propulsion or HiPEP engine, and could make it possible to go to Mars and back on a single tank of fuel.