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A New Advance in Tesla Turbine Theory

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From Feed Line No. 6

A NEW ADVANCE IN TESLA TURBINE THEORY

by Gary Peterson

Observant students of the disk turbine design might have wondered why some of Tesla's engines do not appear to use a labyrinth seal between the end disks and the corresponding engine casing end plates. After all, the patent drawings clearly show these seals and the accompanying text describes them at length. At the same time, photographs of the dual 200 H.P. turbine installed at the Edison Waterside plant in New York reveal an absence of this feature. Jeff Hayes of the Milwaukee based Tesla Engine Builders Association has come up with an interesting theory as to how Tesla was able to eliminate this seemingly important design detail without severely compromising engine performance.

Jeff believes the answer lies in the design of the engine's inlet nozzle. He has proposed that the slot shaped nozzle might have been constructed in such a manner that the propelling gas was never allowed to enter directly into the two inter-discular spaces nearest to the ends of the rotor. In other words it is believed the nozzle slot was narrower than the overall width of the rotor, by slightly more than two spaces. It might be said that the total number of disks was greater by two than the number of active disks. For example, a turbine with 25 disks, including the thicker end disks, might be described as having 23 active disks. This would allow any of the propelling gas which did get past the outermost active disks to pass through the two outermost inter-discular spaces rather than between the end disks and the engine's end plates.

A little research in Jeff's book titled Tesla's Engine A New Dimension For Power has provided some support for this hypothesis. At least four times in the year 1911 Tesla described the 200 H.P. engine as having 25 disks. Then later, once in 1912 and again in 1920, he changed this figure by placing the count at 23 disks. A possible explanation is that because the thick end disks were not playing a significant part in propelling the rotor it was decided that they should not be counted. If Turbine builders can verify this alternative nozzle and rotor configuration as being a viable concept, a great forward step will have been taken in our understanding of the fundamental disk turbine design.

If you are interested in building a Tesla Turbine or have already built one, than you might want to contact the Tesla Engine Builders Association, 5464 N. Port Washington Rd., Suite 293, Milwaukee, WI 53217. TEBA collects information from builders about what works and what doesn't and then redistributes it so that everyone can benefit. TEBA's start-up dues are $35.

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