In the modern era of aviation, aircraft can take advantage of a number of engine types, each of which differ in their design, functions, and capability. While early aircraft regularly took advantage of simplistic piston engines for their power generation, many larger and more powerful planes now rely on the turbine engine. Also known as a gas turbine, the turbine engine is an internal combustion engine that has revolutionary flight capability with the power and propulsion it can provide. In this blog, we will discuss the turbine engine in more detail, allowing you to get a better understanding of how they work and what common types are available on the market.
While different turbine engines may vary in certain aspects of design and functionality, all follow a same basic set of operations that are carried out with a standard array of engine elements. For example, all turbine engines feature what is known as a combustor, and this is the region where compressed air and aviation fuel is mixed and ignited. Tube resulting combustion of the fuel-and-air mixture generates an intensive amount of pressure resulting from exhaust gasses, those of which are directed into a turbine assembly that transforms the kinetic energy of exhaust into power for various systems such as the compressor. Then, the spent gasses are expelled from the turbine engine through the exhaust section, that of which may impart gasses in such a way that increases overall propulsion. Nevertheless, the expulsion of gas is also important to protect standard engine components that may be affected from certain levels of heat and pressure.
The turbofan engine is one of the most common gas turbines, typically found on passenger aircraft and similar commercial transportation types. Turbojets are known for combining some of the most advantageous features of their predecessors, diverting secondary airflow around the combustion chamber for increased thrust. Turbofans are distinguishable by their large fans that are placed at the front of the engine, those of which generate almost 80% of the engine’s entire thrust. When traveling at cruising speeds, the turbofan engine has the benefit of being more fuel efficient and quiet.
Turboprops are another common form of combustion turbine engine, utilizing the combustion of fuel and air mixtures to drive a large propeller situated at the front of the assembly. While most turbine engines utilize their energy production primarily for the compressor, the turboprop engine takes advantage of the more classic design to strike a balance between gas turbines and reciprocating engines. Generally, aircraft with turboprop engines are best while traveling between 18,000 and 25,000 feet while at a speed between 250 and 400 mph.
The final type of gas turbine engine we will discuss is the turbojet, that of which served as the original term for such apparatuses. The turbojet is the oldest and most simplistic form of gas turbine engine, featuring the standard compressor, combustion chambers, turbine section, and exhaust that allow for standard operations. Nevertheless, they were faced with high noise and fuel consumption alongside having lower limitations for speed and endurance, making them more obsolete.
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