power turbine

The turbine has the task of providing power to drive the compressor and accessories. It does this by extracting energy from the hot gases released from the combustion system and expanding them to a lower pressure and temperature. The continuous flow of gas to which the turbine is exposed may enter the turbine at a temperature between 850 and 1700 C which is far above the melting point of current materials technology.

A high-pressure turbine stage from a CFM56 turbofan engine

To produce the driving torque, the turbine may consist of several stages, each employing one row of stationary guide vanes, and one row of moving blades. The number of stages depends on the relationship between the power required from the gas flow, the rotational speed at which it must be produced, and the diameter of turbine permitted. The design of the nozzle guide vanes and turbine blade passages is broadly based on aerodynamic considerations, and to obtain optimum efficiency, compatible with compressor and combustor design, the nozzle guide vanes and turbine blades are of a basic aerofoil shape.

A turbine blade with cooling holes

The desire to produce a high engine efficiency demands a high turbine inlet temperature, but this causes problems as the turbine blades would be required to perform and survive long operating periods at temperatures above their melting point. These blades, while glowing red-hot, must be strong enough to carry the centrifugal loads due to rotation at high speed.

To operate under these conditions, cool air is forced out of many small holes in the blade. This air remains close to the blade, preventing it from melting, but not detracting significantly from the engine's overall performance. Nickel alloys are used to construct the turbine blades and the nozzle guide vanes because these materials demonstrate good properties at high temperatures.