Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Turbine engines are classified according to the type of compressors they use. The compressor types fall into three categories—centrifugal flow, axial flow, and centrifugal-axial flow. Compression of inlet air is achieved in a centrifugal flow engine by accelerating air outward perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the machine. The axial-flow engine compresses air by a series of rotating and stationary airfoils moving the air parallel to the longitudinal axis. The centrifugalaxial flow design uses both kinds of compressors to achieve the desired compression.

The path the air takes through the engine and how power is produced determines the type of engine. There are four types of aircraft turbine engines: turbojet, turboprop, turbofan, and turboshaft.

The turbojet engine contains four sections: compressor, combustion chamber, turbine section, and exhaust. The compressor section passes inlet air at a high rate of speed to the combustion chamber. The combustion chamber contains the fuel inlet and igniter for combustion. The expanding air drives a turbine, which is connected by a shaft to the compressor, sustaining engine operation. The accelerated exhaust gases from the engine provide thrust. This is a basic application of compressing air, igniting the fuel-air mixture, producing power to self-sustain the engine operation, and exhaust for propulsion.

Turbojet engines are limited on range and endurance. They are also slow to respond to throttle applications at slow compressor speeds.

A turboprop engine is a turbine engine that drives a propeller through a reduction gear. The exhaust gases drive a power turbine connected by a shaft that drives the reduction gear assembly. Reduction gearing is necessary in turboprop engines because optimum propeller performance is achieved at much slower speeds than the engine's operating r.p.m. Turboprop engines are a compromise between turbojet engines and reciprocating powerplants. Turboprop engines are most efficient at speeds between 250 and 400 m.p.h. and altitudes between 18,000 and 30,000 feet. They also perform well at the slow airspeeds required for takeoff and landing, and are fuel efficient. The minimum specific fuel consumption of the turboprop engine is normally available in the altitude range of 25,000 feet to the tropopause.

Turbofans were developed to combine some of the best features of the turbojet and the turboprop. Turbofan engines are designed to create additional thrust by diverting a secondary airflow around the combustion chamber. The turbofan bypass air generates increased thrust, cools the engine, and aids in exhaust noise suppression. This provides turbojet-type cruise speed and lower fuel consumption.

The inlet air that passes through a turbofan engine is usually divided into two separate streams of air. One stream passes through the engine core, while a second stream bypasses the engine core. It is this bypass stream of air that is responsible for the term "bypass engine." A turbofan's bypass ratio refers to the ratio of the mass airflow that passes through the fan divided by the mass airflow that passes through the engine core.

The fourth common type of jet engine is the turboshaft. It delivers power to a shaft that drives something other than a propeller. The biggest difference between a turbojet and turboshaft engine is that on a turboshaft engine, most of the energy produced by the expanding gases is used to drive a turbine rather than produce thrust. Many helicopters use a turboshaft gas turbine engine. In addition, turboshaft engines are widely used as auxiliary power units on large aircraft.

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