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Engine on a Chip – the Dream of the Personal Turbine
Written by Gizmo   
Sunday, 11 February 2007 11:24
(Image courtesy of TFOT)

After a decade of work, the first millimeter size turbine engine developed by researchers at MIT should become operational by the end of this summer.

Read the full story at The Future Of Things:

The new turbine engine will allow the creation of smaller and more powerful batteries than anything currently in existence. It might also serve as the basis for tiny powerful motors with applications ranging from micro UAVs to children's toys. In the more distant future huge arrays of hydrogen fueled millimeter turbine engines could even be the basis for clean, quiet and cost effective power plants.

The millimeter size turbine engine project in MIT started in the middle of the 1990's when Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics Alan H. Epstein considered the possibility of creating a personal turbine which will be able to meet all the demands of a modern person's electrical needs, just like a large turbine can meet the electricity demands of a small city.  

The millimeter turbine has the same components as a macro sized conventional turbine engine, but their size requires an entirely different manufacturing technology. According to Professor Epstein, millimeter sized turbines also have many of the same design considerations as large turbines including basic layout, mechanical stress, oxidation-limit etc. In some respects designing a micro size turbine is simpler than a conventional macro one since the microrotors of the turbine are very stiff, eliminating bending problems which occur on larger rotors. Thermal stress is also not an issue at these sizes as well as maintenance of any kind (you will never fix a micro turbine but simply replace the entire engine).

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