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Military jet engines 1  چاپ
تاریخ : شنبه 13 مهر‌ماه سال 1387

A jet engine is an engine that discharges a fast moving jet of fluid to generate thrust in accordance with Newton's third law of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets and ramjets and water jets, but in common usage, the term generally refers to a gas turbine used to produce a jet of high speed exhaust gases for special propulsive purposes.

 

History

In the 1930s, the piston engine in its many different forms (rotary and static radial, aircooled and liquid-cooled inline) was the only type of powerplant available to aircraft designers. However, engineers were beginning to realize conceptually that the piston engine was self-limiting in terms of the maximum performance which could be attained; the limit was essentially one of propeller efficiency. This seemed to peak as blade tips approached the speed of sound. If engine, and thus aircraft, performance were ever to increase beyond such a barrier, a way would have to be found to radically improve the design of the piston engine, or a wholly new type of powerplant would have to be developed. This was the motivation behind the development of the gas turbine engine, commonly called a "jet" engine, which would become almost as revolutionary to aviation as the Wright brothers' first flight.

The key to a practical jet engine was the gas turbine, used to extract energy to drive the compressor from the engine itself. In 1929, Aircraft apprentice Frank Whittle formally submitted his ideas for a turbo-jet to his superiors. On 16 January 1930 in England, Whittle submitted his first patent (granted in 1932). The patent showed a two-stage axial compressor feeding a single-sided centrifugal compressor. Whittle would later concentrate on the simpler centrifugal compressor only, for a variety of practical reasons. In 1935 Hans von Ohain started work on a similar design in Germany, seemingly unaware of Whittle's work. Whittle had his first engine running in April 1937. It was liquid-fuelled, and included a self-contained fuel pump. Von Ohain's engine, as well as being 5 months behind Whittle's, relied on gas supplied under external pressure, so was not self-contained. Whittle unfortunately failed to secure proper backing for his project, and so fell behind Von Ohain in the race to get a jet engine into the air.

One problem with both of these early designs, which are called centrifugal-flow engines, was that the compressor worked by "throwing" (accelerating) air outward from the central intake to the outer periphery of the engine, where the air was then compressed by a divergent duct setup, converting its velocity into pressure. An advantage of this design was that it was already well understood, having been implemented in centrifugal superchargers. However, given the early technological limitations on the shaft speed of the engine, the compressor needed to have a very large diameter to produce the power required. A further disadvantage was that the air flow had to be "bent" to flow rearwards through the combustion section and to the turbine and tailpipe.

Austrian Anselm Franz of Junkers' engine division (Junkers Motoren or Jumo) addressed these problems with the introduction of the axial-flow compressor. Essentially, this is a turbine in reverse. Air coming in the front of the engine is blown towards the rear of the engine by a fan stage (convergent ducts), where it is crushed against a set of non-rotating blades called stators (divergent ducts). The process is nowhere near as powerful as the centrifugal compressor, so a number of these pairs of fans and stators are placed in series to get the needed compression. Even with all the added complexity, the resulting engine is much smaller in diameter. Jumo was assigned the next engine number, 4, and the result was the Jumo 004 engine. After many lesser technical difficulties were solved, mass production of this engine started in 1944 as a powerplant for the world's first jet-fighter aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me 262. After the end of the war the German Me 262 aircraft were extensively studied by the victorious allies and contributed to work on early Soviet and US jet fighters.

Centrifugal-flow engines have improved since their introduction. With improvements in bearing technology, the shaft speed of the engine was increased, greatly reducing the diameter of the centrifugal compressor. The short engine length remains an advantage of this design. Also, its engine components are robust; axial-flow compressors are more liable to foreign object damage.

British engines also were licensed widely in the US. Their most famous design, the Nene would also power the USSR's jet aircraft after a technology exchange. American designs would not come fully into their own until the 1960s.