New Turbine Cleaner, More Efficient

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The gas turbine engine is due for an overhaul and engineers at Purdue University have reached the testing stage of the wave rotor combustion turbine, a new generation of gas turbine engines. They say the engine is about 15-20% more efficient and could cut carbon dioxide emissions in aircraft by 20 percent or more over traditional gas turbine engines now in use. According to NASA, the wave rotor combustion turbine derives its efficiency from a rotating core that is exposed to hot and cold flow, which keeps its mean temperature considerably lower than the peak cycle temperature. Leading the project is Razi Nalim, P.E., Ph.D., associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). “Our goal is to design an alternative to the gas turbine application that is just as reliable, but cleaner, more efficient, and more powerful," said Nalim. "It will not only help reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in traditional applications like airplanes and power generation, but a lighter, more efficient engine may allow Boeing to design an aerospace plane to carry us all the way to outer space and return safely to earth.” To further assist the development of this new technology, IUPUI has recieved a $200,000 award from the Rolls Royce Corporation to continue the design and testing process. Dr. Nalim and his team expect to be operational by the end of the year with a test rig to help prove the benefit of the concept. "Jet engine technology is pretty mature," said Nalim. "To make a really big improvement you need to make a pretty significant change."