Different Types of Jet Engines

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Introduction to Turbojets

Turbojet Engine.

The basic idea of the turbojet engine is simple. Air taken in from an opening in the front of the engine is compressed to 3 to 12 times its original pressure in the compressor. Fuel is added to the air and burned in a combustion chamber to raise the temperature of the fluid mixture to about 1,100 F to 1,300 F. The resulting hot air is passed through a turbine, which drives the compressor. 

If the turbine and compressor are efficient, the pressure at the turbine discharge will be near twice the atmospheric pressure, and this excess pressure is sent to the nozzle to produce a high-velocity stream of gas which produces a thrust. Substantial increases in thrust can be obtained by employing an afterburner. It is a second combustion chamber positioned after the turbine and before the nozzle. The afterburner increases the temperature of the gas ahead of the nozzle. The result of this increase in temperature is an increase of about 40 percent in thrust at takeoff and a much larger percentage at high speeds once the plane is in the air.

The turbojet engine is a reaction engine. In a reaction engine, expanding gasses push hard against the front of the engine. The turbojet sucks in air and compresses or squeezes it. The gasses flow through the turbine and make it spin. These gasses bounce back and shoot out of the rear of the exhaust, pushing the plane forward.

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Turboprop Jet Engine

Turboprop Engine.

A turboprop engine is a jet engine attached to a propeller. The turbine at the back is turned by the hot gasses, and this turns a shaft that drives the propeller. Some small airliners and transport aircraft are powered by turboprops.

Like the turbojet, the turboprop engine consists of a compressor, combustion chamber, and turbine, the air and gas pressure is used to run the turbine, which then creates power to drive the compressor. Compared with a turbojet engine, the turboprop has better propulsion efficiency at flight speeds below about 500 miles per hour. Modern turboprop engines are equipped with propellers that have a smaller diameter but a larger number of blades for efficient operation at much higher flight speeds. To accommodate the higher flight speeds, the blades are scimitar-shaped with swept-back leading edges at the blade tips. Engines featuring such propellers are called propfans.

Hungarian, Gyorgy Jendrassik who worked for the Ganz wagon works in Budapest designed the very first working turboprop engine in 1938. Called the Cs-1, Jendrassik's engine was first tested in August of 1940; the Cs-1 was abandoned in 1941 without going into production due to the War. Max Mueller designed the first turboprop engine that went into production in 1942.

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Turbofan Jet Engine

Turbofan Engine.

A turbofan engine has a large fan at the front, which sucks in air. Most of the airflow around the outside of the engine, making it quieter and giving more thrust at low speeds. Most of today's airliners are powered by turbofans. In a turbojet, all the air entering the intake passes through the gas generator, which is composed of the compressor, combustion chamber, and turbine. In a turbofan engine, only a portion of the incoming air goes into the combustion chamber.

The remainder passes through a fan, or low-pressure compressor, and is ejected directly as a "cold" jet or mixed with the gas-generator exhaust to produce a "hot" jet. The objective of this sort of bypass system is to increase thrust without increasing fuel consumption. It achieves this by increasing the total air-mass flow and reducing the velocity within the same total energy supply.

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Turboshaft Engines

Turboshaft Engine.

This is another form of gas-turbine engine that operates much like a turboprop system. It does not drive a propeller. Instead, it provides power for a helicopter rotor. The turboshaft engine is designed so that the speed of the helicopter rotor is independent of the rotating speed of the gas generator. This permits the rotor speed to be kept constant even when the speed of the generator is varied to modulate the amount of power produced.

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Ramjet Engine
Ramjet Engine.

The most simple jet engine has no moving parts. The speed of the jet "rams" or forces air into the engine. It is essentially a turbojet in which rotating machinery has been omitted. Its application is restricted by the fact that its compression ratio depends wholly on forward speed. The ramjet develops no static thrust and very little thrust in general below the speed of sound. As a consequence, a ramjet vehicle requires some form of assisted takeoff, such as another aircraft. It has been used primarily in guided-missile systems. Space vehicles use this type of jet.

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Bellis, Mary. "Different Types of Jet Engines." ThoughtCo, Sep. 1, 2021, thoughtco.com/different-types-of-jet-engines-1992017. Bellis, Mary. (2021, September 1). Different Types of Jet Engines. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/different-types-of-jet-engines-1992017 Bellis, Mary. "Different Types of Jet Engines." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/different-types-of-jet-engines-1992017 (accessed May 29, 2023).