Tesla turbine

The Tesla turbine is a bladeless turbine design patenteded by Nikola Tesla in 1913. It is referred to as a bladeless turbine because it utilizes the boundary layer effect and not by a fluid impacting the blades in a conventional turbine.

If a similar set of disks and a housing with an involute shape (versus circular for the turbine) are used, the device can be used as a pump. In this configuration a motor is attached to the shaft. The fluid enters near the center, is given energy by the disks, then exits at the periphery.

A Tesla turbine consists of a set of smooth disks, with nozzles applying a moving gas to the edge of the disk. The gases drag on the disk by means of viscosity and the adhesion of the surface layer of the gas. As the gas slows and adds energy to the disks, it spirals in to the center exhaust. Since the rotor has no projections, the rotor is very sturdy.

This turbine is an efficient self-starting prime mover which may be operated as a steam or mixed fluid turbine at will, without changes in construction and is on this account very convenient. Minor departures from the turbine, as may be dictated by the circumstances in each case, will obviously suggest themselves but if it is carried out on these general lines it will be found highly profitable to the owners of the steam plant while permitting the use of their old installation. However, the best economic results in the development of power from steam by the Tesla turbine will be obtained in plants especially adapted for the purpose.

It should be added that this turbine can also be successfully applied to condensing plants operating with high vacuum. In such a case, owing to the very great expansion ratio, the exhaust mixture will be at a relatively low temperature and suitable for admission to the condenser. Better fuel has to be used and special pumping facilities provided but the economic results attained will fully justify the increased outlay.

All the plates and washers are fitted on and keyed to a sleeve threaded at the ends and equipped with nuts and collars for drawing the thick end-plates together or, if desired, the collars may by simply forced onto it and the ends upset. The sleeve has a hole fitting snugly on the shaft and is fastened to the same as usual.

This construction permits free expansion and contraction of each plate individually under the varying influence of heat and centrifugal force and possesses a number of other advantages which are of considerable practical moment. A larger active plate area and consequently more power is obtained for a given width, this improving efficiency. Warping is virtually eliminated and smaller side clearances may be used which results in diminished leakage and friction losses. The rotor is better adapted for dynamic balancing and through rubbing friction resists disturbing influences thereby insuring quieter running. For this reason and also because the discs are not rigidly joined it is safer against damage which might otherwise be caused by vibration or excessive speed.

The Tesla turbine possess the following qualities:

  1. Installation normally working with a mixture of steam and products of combustion and in which the exhaust heat is used to provide steam which is supplied to the turbine, providing a valve governing the supply of such last mentioned steam so that the pressures and temperatures can be adjusted to the optimum working conditions.
  2. A Tesla turbine installation as diagrammed is capable of starting with steam alone.
  3. A Tesla turbine installation as diagrammed is a disc type adapted to work with fluids at a very high temperature.

Note: the Tesla turbine does not use friction, it precisely avoids it, and uses adhesion and viscosity instead. It utilizes the boundary layer effect on the disc blades. This is an important point of this invention.

See also: Tesla patents, Nikola Tesla

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