Tesla Turbine for Small-Scale Electrical Power Generation
A small scale Tesla turbine has been designed and built for the Soldier and Sensor Power Program (0-100W). The Soldier and Sensor Power Program is funded by the Army and is focused on providing electrical power for foot soldiers’ on-board systems with an energy density 15 times greater than that of current batteries. The Tesla turbine concept is intended to utilize surface effects such as viscous drag to convert kinetic flow energy into shaft power. This concept is hypothesized to be more scale-appropriate than traditional engines for small-scale power generation, given that the transduction mechanism scales with surface area instead of volume. This allows the ratio of transduction effects to losses due to surface-effects to remain high at small scales. High pressure gas resulting from an exothermic chemical reaction is converted into kinetic flow energy through a nozzle (or nozzles) and subsequently converted into shaft power via viscous drag between closely spaced co-rotating disks. Shaft power is converted to electrical power through a brushless generator.
2nd Proto Early Test
Running at 34,895 RPM
A Sacrificial Load
- Thomas B. Carroll and E. J. Barth, “Tesla Turbine as a Compact, Liquid-Fueled Electric Motor Generator”. Poster session for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SUGRE), September 4, 2008, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, Nashville, TN.