To move an airplane through the air,
we have to use some kind of propulsion system
to generate thrust. The most widely used
form of propulsion system for modern aircraft is the gas
turbine engine. Turbine engines come in a variety of forms.
This page shows computer drawings of four different variations of
a gas turbine or jet engine. While each of the engines are different,
they share some parts in common. Each of
these engines have a combustion section
(red), a compressor (cyan), a turbine
(magenta) and an inlet and a nozzle
(grey). The compressor, burner, and turbine are called the
of the engine, since all gas turbines have these
components. The core is also referred to as the gas generator
since the output of the core is hot exhaust gas. The gas is passed
through a nozzle to produce thrust for the turbojet, while it is used
to drive the turbine (green) of the turbofan and turboprop engines.
Because the compressor and turbine are linked
by the central shaft and rotate together, this group of parts is
called the turbomachinery. The operation of the
and turboprop engines are described on
Because of their high power output and high thermal efficiency, gas turbine engines
are also used in a wide variety of applications not related to aeronautics. Connecting
the main shaft of the engine to an electro-magnet will generate electrical power. Gas turbines
can also be used to power ships, trucks and military tanks.
In these applications, the main shaft
is connected to a gear box (much like the turboprop) and the resulting power plant is called
a turboshaft engine.
In the late 1960's, turboshaft powered race cars competed at the Indy 500.
You can explore the design and operation of different turbine
engine by using the interactive
Java applet. You can select the engine type
and vary any of the parameters which
affect thrust and fuel flow.
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