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Jet Engine

  The jet engine became a reality in 1930 when Frank Whittle designed and patented the essential elements of the modern turbojet. His design was first tested in 1937 but similar work in Germany led to the first turbojet powered aircraft, the Heinkel HE-178 in 1939.

The turbojet works on the following principles. Air enters the engine and is immediately compressed, whereupon heat is added by burning fuel, usually kerosene. This leads to a build up of hot gases which expand in the turbine, where energy is extracted to drive a rotating compressor. Further expansion of the gases through the the nozzle causes the energy of this gas stream to produce thrust that acts as the propulsion power for the engine. Extra power can be extracted by adding more heat in the afterburner.

Its development has led to jet transportation that has shrunk the size of the planet. The first commercial jet aircraft, the Comet, flew in 1949 and in less than 30 years, the design and building of Concorde has seen passengers travel at twice the speed of sound.

The jet engine is still being developed by aircraft manufacturers as they seek better power to weight ratios and new fuel saving devices. AA

Further reading J.E. Treager, Aircraft Gas Turbine Engine Technology.



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