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A Boundary-Layer Breakthrough

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From Feed Line No. 5


by Gary Peterson

In years gone by it had been called the greatest invention of the age, the monarch of machines, a turbine of revolutionary design, the ideal... What was the object of all this high praise?—one of the century's most remarkable inventions—the Tesla disk turbine. With a design so simple as to nearly evoke disbelief, it consisted merely of multiple German steel disks mounted on a shaft and placed within a cylindrical casing. In operation, high velocity gases entered at the periphery of the disks, flowing between them in free spiral paths to finally escape, depleted, through central exhaust ports. Instead of extracting energy from the gas by its action on pistons, blades or vanes, Nikola Tesla's disk turbine depended upon the properties of adhesion and viscosity to achieve this result. The slight density of the gas and its attraction to the faces of the disks combined to transmit its energy to the disks and thence to the shaft.

Rotor Disk
Can you find what is right in this picture ?
Credit: Tesla Engine Builders Association

After languishing nearly out of sight for more three-quarters of a century on the pages of nearly forgotten patent records and in old photographs, new prototypes of Nikola Tesla's rotary engine are once again being built. It is true that recent years have seen a number of hesitant steps in this direction. Even yet it has not been until this year, as reported in the Spring 1995 Tesla Engine Builders Association Newsletter, that disk turbines conforming to the original designers well established guidelines have begun to take shape. The photograph shows a critical subassembly that makes up part of a true disk turbine's runner or rotating component. Three attributes of this end disk subassembly set it apart from other recent attempts—a complete array of holes ready to receive the through rivets that along with very thin washers will bind the rotor disks tightly together; three central spokes that line up with matching star washer spacers and; a circular labyrinth seal that will mesh with a corresponding seal that is part of the adjacent engine housing end plate. Interestingly, all three of these features, present in Nikola Tesla's original design specifications, have been omitted by many latter day investigators. It is the reintegration of these details back into the design which gives cause to believe that an inexpensive, clean burning high mileage automobile engine is now very close at hand.

If you want to learn more about the Advanced Dynamics Tesla turbine as well as the work of many other researchers who are also building these engines, request TEBA membership information by sending a SASE to the Tesla Engine Builders Association, 5464 North Port Washington Road, Box 293, Milwaukee, WI 53217. See the 21st Century Books FEED LINE Resource Guide for more details about this group

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