In the realm of aviation, there are a variety of systems that may be used to create the thrust necessary for forward momentum. While most early aircraft depended on pistons and propellers for their propulsion, modern aircraft now often take advantage of the gas turbine, that of which is also used in industrial settings for power generation. Gas turbine engines come in a variety of subtypes, those of which include turbojets, turbofans, turboprops, and turboshafts. While each slightly varies in design and power production, all follow a similar set of operations. In this blog, we will discuss gas turbines in more detail, allowing you to have a better understanding of how they are put together and operate.
Generally, a basic gas turbine assembly will consist of standard parts such as the air inlet, compressor section, combustion section, turbine section, exhaust section, accessory section, and any systems that are required for starting, lubrication, or fuel supply processes. These parts can be found in all gas turbine options, though each variation may have slight differences in nomenclatures and placement. The various types of gas turbine engines can be classified based on the type of compressor that is used, such elements being one of the greatest factors that influences overall construction and design. To help you become more familiar with gas turbines, we will discuss some of the most common types.
The turbojet acts as one of the earliest forms of gas turbine engine for aircraft, tracing back in use to World War II. The turbojet is known for being fairly simplistic, and it has various issues with noise and fuel consumption, as well as limited range and endurance. With their capabilities having been superseded by newer gas turbine engine variations, turbojets now primarily find use in military applications. Turbojets feature all the primary elements and sections that are common to gas turbines, and the thrust generation will follow a process that starts with the intake and compression of air, and ends with fuel-and-air mixing, combustion, and exhaust harnessing and expulsion. While turbojets have their shortcomings, they do have the advantage of having a very simplistic design and compact construction.
Turboprop engines also came about around the World War II era, and they feature a combination of a gas turbine engine, reduction gear box, and a propeller. With this basic assembly, turboprop engines function similarly to other gas turbine engines while featuring extra stages that allow for energy to be used to drive the propellers. This differs from other gas turbine options, as instead of creating thrust through exhaust or other similar means, thrust is created through the use of propellers, much like a conventional reciprocating engine. Turboprops are known for being fairly fuel-efficient, and they are the most efficient when traveling at an altitude between 18,000 and 30,000 feet and a speed between 250 and 400 knots. Despite this, they are also considered to be limited in their forward airspeed and have the disadvantage of having gearing systems that are heavy and prone to breaking down.
The turbofan is a more modern type of gas turbine engine that combines many of the beneficial qualities present in turbojet and turboprop engines. With the use of a secondary flow of air that is routed around the combustion chamber, turbofan engines are capable of generating additional thrust. With their various capabilities and advantages, turbofan engines serve as the primary engine of choice for airliner-type aircraft, and they can easily be spotted with their large set of fans that sit at the front of the assembly. Furthermore, turbofan gas turbine engines are also fairly fuel efficient and quieter than turbojets, at the cost of being heavier and less efficient at very high altitudes.
While gas turbines are much more powerful than reciprocating engines, they still require regular inspection and maintenance as a result of the wear and tear that will ensue over time as a result of intensive heat within the combustion chamber and exhaust system. As a result, one should regularly inspect and repair key parts such as the air compressor, fuel system, turbine assembly, and more. If you find yourself in need of replacement parts and are in search of a reputable distributor that can fulfill all your needs with time and cost savings, there is no better purchasing platform than Aviation Distribution.
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