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.


Second Prototype Nozzle and Disks

Second Prototype Width

Second Prototype Diameter

Second Prototype CAD

Second Prototype CAD Explode

Second Prototype CAD Stator

Second Prototype Photo of Stator

Second Prototype Setup

Second Prototype and Generator

Second Prototype and Load

Second Prototype in Hand

Second Prototype Partially Disassembled

Second Prototype Showing 6 Nozzles

Second Prototype Inside

Second Prototype Disk Pack

Laser Cutter

Second Prototype Disk Spacing

Second Prototype Riveted Disk Pack Assembly

Second Prototype Riveted Disk Pack

Second Prototype Riveted Disk Pack Spacing

First Prototype Internal

First Prototype Partially Assembled

First Prototype Nozzle

First Prototype Disks and Spacers

First Prototype Components



First Prototype

2nd Proto Early Test

Running at 34,895 RPM

Laser cutting

Measurement Setup

A Sacrificial Load