The Gas Turbine Engine and its Inner Workings

The gas turbine engine, also known as a combustion turbine engine, is a type of internal combustion engine that utilizes the ignition of a fuel and air mixture to produce thrust and propulsion for an aircraft to sustain flight. There are various types of the aircraft turbine engine, and these include the turbojet, turboprop, turboshaft, and turbofan engine. Although each may differ in areas such as their compressor parts, as well as each provide various advantages and disadvantages, there are some common components that can be found across all types of the gas turbine engine. These include the air inlet, compressor parts, combustion chamber, turbine section, and exhaust parts.

The air inlet of the aircraft turbine engine allows for large amounts of air to be drawn into the engine and towards the compressor without losing energy by bringing in turbulent free air. Once air is drawn into the engine, the compressor section begins to increase the oxygen density of air by separating it with sets of blades that decrease in size and add energy as the air moves through them. During this stage within the compressor parts of the engine, the rotational energy of air is transformed into static energy, increasing the amount of air compression.

Once air has been thoroughly compressed, it is directed into the combustion chamber. Within the chamber, the fuel supply is injected through the use of nozzles, mixing together air and fuel. The mixture is then ignited utilizing spark plugs, and the resulting combustion generates hot gases that rapidly expand and move from the combustion chamber to the turbine section. As gases pass through turbine blades, energy from the gas is harnessed through the spinning of the blades which produces mechanical energy for the compressor and engine accessories. Once the turbine blades have utilized energy from the combustion gases, the gases proceed into the exhaust section, which serves as the final area of the gas turbine engine. The exhaust parts consist of a cone, nozzle, and sometimes a tailpipe. As the gases pass from the turbines, they are funneled into the cone which increases their pressure and directs them into a solid flow. The nozzle produces thrust as the exhaust gases are emitted from the engine, and there are various specifically engineered designs, shapes, and sizes of nozzles that cater to different aircraft and operations.

As compared to the reciprocating engine, which is another very common aircraft engine type, the gas turbine engine holds various advantages. For one, the gas turbine engine is often smaller than a reciprocating engine with the same power, thus making it have a higher power-to weight ratio which is very beneficial. Gas turbines also have fewer parts and require less maintenance, as well as provide greater reliability during operation. With the ability to utilize different fuels, consume less lubricating oil, and have less emissions, the gas turbine engine proves to be more versatile and produces less toxic gases. With these advantages, and many more, the gas turbine engine proves to be a very advantageous choice for aircraft.


March 18, 2021

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