What is a Turbine

Turbine is a mechanical device which creates USEFUL work through extraction of energy from a fluid. The fluid here includes steam, air, combustion gases etc. It would not be wrong to quote that “Turbines are the backbone of our civilization”. Every electric power source be it thermal, the windmills or any other, turbines are used to generate electricity. A turbine is the most common types of engines, an engine can be defined as something that takes an input and generates an output.

The turbine has or may have a series of blades, mostly made of steel but sometimes ceramic, which can withstand higher temperatures. The fluid goes in one end, pushing the blades and causing them to spin, then gets ejected out the other end. This motion results in production of useful energy. To increase the efficiency of turbines they are often CHAINED together thus yields better energy output than before.

Turbine has many types mainly:

  • Steam turbines are used in thermal power plants for the generation of electricity, such as plants using coal, fuel oil or nuclear power.
  • Gas turbines are sometimes referred to as turbine engines. Such engines usually feature an inlet, fan, compressor, combustor and nozzle (possibly other assemblies) in addition to one or more turbines.
  • Wind mills are the most complex turbines. They use air to produce electricity.
  • Water turbines are turbines that use water resources such as a river or ocean tides to produce electricity.
  • Ceramic turbine, Conventional high-pressure turbine blades (and vanes) are made from nickel based alloys and often utilise intricate internal air-cooling passages to prevent the metal from overheating.

Almost all electrical power on Earth is produced with a turbine of some type. Very high efficiency steam turbines harness about 40% of the thermal energy, with the rest exhausted as waste heat. Military jet engines, as branch of gas turbines, have recently been used as primary flight controller in post-stall flight using jet deflections that are also called thrust vectoring. The U.S. FAA has also conducted a study about civilizing such thrust vectoring systems to recover jetliners from catastrophes.

Turbines can be a part of a larger machine. A gas turbine, for instance, may refer to an internal combustion machine that contains a turbine, ducts, compressor, combustor, heat-exchanger, fan and (in the case of one designed to produce electricity) an alternator. Combustion turbines and steam turbines can be connected to machinery such as pumps and compressors, or may be used for propulsion of ships, usually through an intermediate gearbox to reduce rotary speed.

More and more efficient and complex turbines are built in order to increase the efficiency of turbines, these include the Shrouded tidal turbines which use the tides occurring in the ocean to produce electricity. As time passes we can see a future full of these incredible machines.