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The History of Engines - How Engines Work
Part 2: A Short History and Timeline of Gas Turbine Engines
 The History of Engines
- Part I: How Steam Engines Work
- Part 2: A Short History of Gas Turbine Engines
- Part 3: Understanding the Internal Combustion Engine
Gas Turbine Engines
- Types of Gas Turbine Engines
150 BC - A Greek philosopher and mathematician, Hero, invented a toy (Aeolipile) that rotated on top of a boiling pot of water. This caused a reaction effect of hot air or steam that moved several nozzles arranged on a wheel. This works when one understands the Third Law of Motion - Every action produces a reaction ... equal in force and opposite in direction.
1232 - Chinese began to use rockets as weapons. The invention of gun powder uses the reaction principle to move rockets foward.
1500 - Leonardo da Vinci drew a sketch of a device, the chimney jack, that rotated due to the effect of hot gases flowing up a chimney. It looked like a device that used hot air to rotate a spit. The hot air came from the fire and rose upward to pass through a series of fan like blades that turned the roasting spit.
1629 - Giovanni Branca developed a stamping mill, that used jets of steam to rotate a turbine that then rotated to operate machinery.
1678 - Ferdinand Verbiest built a model carriage that used a steam jet for power.
1687 - Sir Isaac Newton announces the three laws of motion. These form the basis for modern propulsion theory.
1791 - John Barber received the first patent for a basic turbine engine. His design was planned to use as a method of propelling the 'horseless carriage.' The turbine was designed with a chain-driven, reciprocating type of compressor. It has a compressor, a combustion chamber, and a turbine.
1872 - Dr. F. Stolze designed the first true gas turbine engine. His engine used a multistage turbine section and a flow compressor. This engine never ran under its own power.
1903 - Aegidius Elling of Norway built the first successful gas turbine using both rotary compressors and turbines - the first gas turbine with excess power.
1897 - Sir Charles Parson patented a steam turbine which was used to power a ship.
1914 - Charles Curtis filed the first application for a gas turbine engine.
1918 - General Electric company started a gas turbine division. Dr. Stanford A. Moss developed the GE turbosupercharger engine during W.W.I. It used hot exhaust gases from a reciprocating engine to drive a turbine wheel that in turn drove a centrifugal compressor used for supercharging.
1920 - Dr. A. A. Griffith developed a theory of turbine design based on gas flow past airfoils rather than through passages.
1930 - Sir Frank Whittle in England patented a design for a gas turbine for jet propulsion. The first successful use of this engine was in April, 1937. His early work on the theory of gas propulsion was based on the contributions of most of the earlier pioneers of this field.

The specifications of the first jet engine were:

Airflow = 25 lb/s
Fuel Consumption = 200 gal/hr or 1300 lb/hr
Thrust = 1000 lb
Specific Fuel consumption = 1.3 lb/hr/lb
1936 - At the same time as Frank Whittle was working in Great Britain, Hans von Ohian and Max Hahn, students in Germany developed and patented their own engine design.
1939 (August) - The aircraft company Ernst Heinkel Aircraft flew the first flight of a gas turbine jet, the HE178.
1941 - Sir Frank Whittle designed the first successful turbojet airplane, the Gloster Meteor, flown over Great Britain. Whittle improved his jet engine during the war, and in 1942 he shipped an engine prototype to General Electric in the United States. America's first jet plane was built the following year.
1942 - Dr. Franz Anslem developed the axial-flow turbojet, Junkers Jumo 004, used in the Messerschmitt Me 262, the world's first operational jet fighter.
After W.W.II, the development of jet engines was directed by a number of commercial companies. Jet engines soon became the most popular method of powering airplanes.

Next page > Understanding the Internal Combustion Engine

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