Tesla Turbine

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The Tesla turbine is a bladeless centripetal flow turbine patented by Nikola Tesla in 1913. It is referred to as a bladeless turbine because it uses the boundary layer effect and not a fluid impinging upon the blades as in a conventional turbine. The Tesla turbine is also known as the boundary layer turbine, cohesion-type turbine, and Prandtl layer turbine (after Ludwig Prandtl). Bioengineering researchers have referred to it as a multiple disk centrifugal pump.



??????? The job of any engine is to convert energy from a fuel source into mechanical energy. Whether the natural source is air, moving water, coal or petroleum, the input energy is a fluid. And by fluid we mean something very specific -- it's any substance that flows under an applied stress. Both gases and liquids, therefore, are fluids, which can be exemplified by water. As far as an engineer is concerned, liquid water and gaseous water, or steam, function as a fluid.
At the beginning of the 20th century, two types of engines were common: bladed turbines, driven by either moving water or steam generated from heated water, and piston engines, driven by gases produced during the combustion of gasoline. The former is a type of rotary engine, the latter a type of reciprocating engine. Both types of engines were complicated machines that were difficult and time-consuming to build.
Consider a piston as an example. A piston is a cylindrical piece of metal that moves up and down, usually inside another cylinder. In addition to the pistons and cylinders themselves, other parts of the engine include valves, cams, bearings, gaskets and rings. Each one of these parts represents an opportunity for failure. And, collectively, they add to the weight and inefficiency of the engine as a whole.
Bladed turbines had fewer moving parts, but they presented their own problems. Most were huge pieces of machinery with very narrow tolerances. If not built properly, blades could break or crack.
Tesla's new engine was a bladeless turbine, which would still use a fluid as the vehicle of energy, but would be much more efficient in converting the fluid energy into motion.



Research Gaps:-
Tesla had several machines built. Juilus C. Czito, the son of Tesla's long-time machinist, built several versions. The first, built in 1906, featured eight disks, each six inches (15.2 centimeters) in diameter. The machine weighed less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) and developed 30 horsepower. It also revealed a deficiency that would make ongoing development of the machine difficult. The rotor attained such high speeds -- 35,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) -- that the metal disks stretched considerably, hampering efficiency.
In 1910, Czito and Tesla built a larger model with disks 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) in diameter. It rotated at 10,000 rpm and developed 100 horsepower. Then, in 1911, the pair built a model with disks 9.75 inches (24.8 centimeters) in diameter. This reduced the speed to 9,000 rpm but increased the power output to 110 horse

Bolstered by these successes on a small scale, Tesla built a larger double unit, which he planned to test with steam in the main powerhouse of the New York Edison Company. Each turbine had a rotor bearing disks 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) in diameter. The two turbines were placed in a line on a single base. During the test, Tesla was able to achieve 9,000 rpm and generate 200 horsepower. However, some engineers present at the test, loyal to Edison, claimed that the turbine was a failure based on a misunderstanding of how to measure torque in the new machine. This bad press, combined with the fact that the major electric companies had already invested heavily in bladed turbines, made it difficult for Tesla to attract investors.
In Tesla's final attempt to commercialize his invention, he persuaded the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company in Milwaukee to build three turbines. Two had 20 disks 18 inches in diameter and developed speeds of 12,000 and 10,000 rpm respectively. The third had 15 disks 60 inches (1.5 meters) in diameter and was designed to operate at 3,600 rpm, generating 675 horsepower. During the tests, engineers from Allis-Chalmers grew concerned about both the mechanical efficiency of the turbines, as well as their ability to endure prolonged use. They found that the disks had distorted to a great extent and concluded that the turbine would have eventually failed.
Even as late as the 1970s, researchers had difficulty replicating the results reported by Tesla. Warren Rice, a professor of engineering at Arizona State University, created a version of the Tesla turbine that operated at 41 percent efficiency. Some argued that Rice's model deviated from Tesla's exact specifications. But Rice, an expert in fluid dynamics and the Tesla turbine, conducted a literature review of research as late as the 1990s and found that no modern version of Tesla's invention exceeded 30 to 40 percent efficiency. This, more than anything, prevented the Tesla turbine from becoming more widely used.

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Objectives of the experiment: - ???????????????

According to Nikola Tesla, the three key efficiency points of his turbine are:

  • The inlet nozzle
  • Disk geometry
  • The outlet nozzle

Experimental works aimed first of all at establishing relationships between the turbine efficiency and parameters given below:

?? Distance between the turbine disks
? Number and diameter of the turbine disks
? Number of inlet nozzles to the turbine
? Rotational speed of the rotor
? Inlet pressure
? Inlet temperature
? Inlet velocity and inlet angle
? Corrosion and erosion of turbine elements
? Constructional materials (composites, ceramic
materials, bronzes, aluminum alloys)
? Kind of medium flowing through the turbine
(air, biogas, organic agents, exhaust gases, multiphase
media, etc).

Proposed Experimental Programme / Theoretical Analysis:-?


There are mainly 2 parts in the turbine.

(1) Rotor:-
In the rotor it consists of series of smooth discs mounted on a shaft. Each disk is made with openings surrounding the shaft. These openings act as exhaust ports through which the fluid exits.? Washers are used as Spacers; the thickness of a washer is not to exceed 2 to 3 millimeters.



(2) Stator:-
The rotor assembly is housed within a cylindrical stator, or the stationary part of the turbine. Each end of the stator contains a bearing for the shaft.?
The stator also contains one or two inlets, into which nozzles are inserted, which allows the turbine to run either clockwise or counterclockwise. To make the turbine run, a high-pressure fluid enters the nozzles at the stator inlets. The fluid passes between the rotor disks and causes the rotor to spin. Eventually, the fluid exits through the exhaust ports in the center of the turbine.

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Working Principle:-

?? ??????????????? Adhesion and viscosity are the two properties of any fluid, these two properties work together in the Tesla turbine to transfer energy from the fluid to the rotor or vice versa.
1. As the fluid moves past each disk, adhesive forces cause the fluid molecules just above the metal surface to slow down and stick.
2. The molecules just above those at the surface slow down when they collide with the molecules sticking to the surface.


???????????????????? 3. These molecules in turn slow down the flow just above them.
4. The farther one moves away from the surface, the fewer the collisions affected by the object surface.
5. At the same time, viscous forces cause the molecules of the fluid to resist separation.
6. This generates a pulling force that is transmitted to the disk, causing the disk to move in the direction of the fluid.

???????????????? The thin layer of fluid that interacts with the disk surface in this way is called the boundary layer, and the interaction of the fluid with the solid surface is called the boundary layer effect. As a result of this effect, the propelling fluid follows a rapidly accelerated spiral path along the disk faces until it reaches a suitable exit
With proper use of the analytical results, the rotor efficiency using laminar flow can be very high, even above 95%.

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  • Simple in construction.
  • Corrosion and cavitation is less.
  • Pollution free.
  • Low cost to produce and maintain.
  • Lower design and production costs than standard turbines, jet engines and pumps
  • Blade-less
  • High-speed (100,000rpm+ be achieved with some versions)
  • Low friction (uses boundary layer effect , adhesion + viscosity rather friction)
  • Reversible
  • Can be run on a vacuum
  • Can be powered by air, steam, gasses or liquids
  • Proven technology (but rarely used)
  • Lower complexity the conventional Jet Engine
  • Can be used as a pump by rotating the shaft
  • Quieter in operation than conventional machinery
  • Noise is more ?white?
  • 2 stage or multi stage versions can run on combustible gas/liquids (Just like a jet engine)
  • This type of equipment can be operated at a wide range of working medium parameters without any danger and malfunction.
  • It is not so sensitive to a partially polluted working medium, since the fluid flow is parallel to disks, so it can be operated with saturated steam.
  • This turbine can be adjusted to different circumstances by applying a few cross sections have to be adjusted to the actual demand which is an interchangeable part of the equipment.




  • Low rotor torque
  • Often not suitable for a direct replacement for conventional turbines and pumps, without changes to the machinery it is interacting with.
  • Proof of its efficiency compared to conventional turbines is still questionable and needs more research
  • It has remain underdeveloped and hence design improvements are still being made



  • Tesla turbine has not seen widespread commercial use since its invention.
  • The Tesla pump, however, has been commercially available since 1982 and is used to pump fluids that are abrasive, viscous, contain solids, shear sensitive or otherwise difficult to handle with other pumps.
  • Applications of the Tesla turbine as a multiple-disk centrifugal blood pump have yielded promising results. Biomedical engineering research on such applications has been continued into the 21st century.


Future of the turbine:-

  • Tesla?s ultimate goal was to replace the piston combustion engine with a much more efficient, more reliable engine based on his technology.



Predicted Results and Discussions:-

  • ???????????????????The turbine efficiency of the gas Tesla turbine is estimated to be above 60, reaching a maximum of 95 percent. Keep in mind that turbine efficiency is different from the cycle efficiency of the engine using the turbine. Axial turbines which operate today in steam plants or jet engines have efficiencies of about 60 - 70?% .This is different from the cycle efficiencies of the plant or engine which are between approximately 25% and 42%, and are limited by any irreversibilities to be below the Carnot cycle efficiency. Tesla claimed that a steam version of his device would achieve around 95 percent efficiency.The methods and apparatus for the propulsion of fluids and thermodynamic transformation of energy were disclosed in various patents. The thermodynamic efficiency is a measure of how well it performs compared to an isentropic case. It is the ratio of the ideal to the actual work input/output. This can be taken to be the ratio of the ideal change in enthalpy to the real enthalpy for the same change in pressure.

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