Simply put, a gas turbine is a type of continuous internal combustion engine.
The three main parts of a gas turbine engine
A gas turbine is made up of three main elements:
- Upstream rotating gas compressor
- Downstream turbine on the corresponding shaft as the compressor.
A fourth element that is used for increasing efficiency for turboprops is converting power into mechanical turboshafts and achieving better thrust-to-weight ratio on these afterburning engines.
What is the basic function of a gas turbine engine?
The basic function of the gas turbine is through atmospheric air flowing through the compressor bringing it to a higher pressure, energy is then created when fuel is sprayed into the air, igniting it to combust and generate high-temperature flow. The high-temp pressurized gas goes through the turbine creating shaft output and driving the compressor. The unused energy can then be repurposed for external work in directly creating thrust for turbojet engines, direct into shaft output power or powering a second independent turbine. The ultimate purpose of the gas turbine determines the design for the most desired energy of either thrust or shaft power.
Introducing the Turboshaft Engine
One type of gas turbine is a turboshaft engine which is designed to produce maximum shaft power versus turbojet thrust. The turboshaft engine uses turbine expansion to convert the unused energy from the exhaust into the shaft output power. These engines are commonly used in an aircraft that maintains a high power output with high reliability, but also light in weight and small in size. Most common are helicopters, but in other applications like Tanks, Boats, Generators, Hovercrafts and much more!