Turbojet Engines

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GE has a great new video with a straightforward explanation of the turbojet and the turbofan engines. The simplest description of the engines–suck, squeeze, bang, blow–sounds like a euphemism but it’s fairly accurate. The engines draw in air, compress it by making it flow through a series of small rotating blades, add fuel and combust the mixture, pull out energy through a turbine, and then blow the high-speed exhaust out the back to generate thrust. The thrust is key because it’s the force that overcomes drag on the plane and also generates the speed needed to create lift. There are two ways to significantly increase thrust: a) increase the mass flow rate of air through the engine, and/or b) increase the exhaust velocity. The turbojet engine draws in smaller amounts of air but generates very high exhaust velocities. The turbofan is today’s preferred commercial aircraft engine because it can generate thrust more efficiently at the desired aircraft velocity. The turbofan essentially has a turbojet engine in its center and is surrounded by a large air-bypass. Most of the air passing through the engine flows through the bypass and the fan. This increases its velocity only slightly, but it means that the engine accelerates much larger amounts of air without requiring much larger amounts of fuel. As an added bonus, the lower exhaust velocities of the turbofan engine make it much quieter in operation. (Video credit: General Electric)

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