View Full Version : Tesla turbine

03-19-2003, 02:14 AM
Does anyone have first hand experience with building or running a Tesla turbine?

There is very little info out there on this.
Lots on Tesla pumps, but almost nothing on turbines. I have the book that Lindsay was selling called "Tesal Turbine, A new dimension for power", but it doesn't have enough detail to even begin a design.

My goal is to build a working turbine to power a vehicle (car, truck, etc.).
The simplicity of it is fascinating. The way it makes use of such basic principles and simple design is very appealing. It seems that it would be relatively easy to build also.

Any info on Tesla turbines or pumps will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-19-2003, 02:31 AM
There was a construction artile on HSM or was it MW? Check the index.

The tesla turbines and pumps are pretty much the same thing. A turbine can be used to pump if you wish. I imagine that construction of a universal unit would be more critical as to inlet and outlet and disc spacing and surface area.

www.lindsay.com (http://www.lindsay.com) May have something.

Dr. Rob
03-19-2003, 02:49 AM
Indeed, there was an in-depth, three-part instructional series of articles in HSM not long ago. Like say, the first half of 2002. Straining my little brain to recall the name of the author so he gets some credit, which is probably why he wrote it.

Anyway, if you find the article, you won't have any more questions. Very informative.

03-19-2003, 03:43 AM
Tesla turbine, part 1, Sept/Oct 2001, in HSM. Fascinating man, Nikola Tesla, and fascinating subject, the Tesla turbine. The article and project that appears in HSM is provoking, in that, in my opinion, much can be done to improve the performance and power/weight ratio of the machine. The difficulty lies in the fact that the air blowing into the rotor stack reacts with the discs in a non-visual way, and thus it isn't possible to just look at it in operation, and try to visualize what would be an improvement. I don't know if Tesla came up with all the optimal factors and published them well enough to enable us to produce a reasonably advanced version of the machine, but he was a very smart man, and I think it makes sense to gather info on the turbine, from as many sources as can be found, as well as any vortex-related experiments he did, and anything related to surface tension as well. I think he had a link to knowledge of properties that we, even today, don't fully appreciate. Study what Tesla has done, and read between the lines also, and you'll get insights into many different fields, and maybe learn things that'll help you to improve the turbine.

Forrest Addy
03-19-2003, 04:26 AM
Interesting idea but inherently weighty for use in anything but stationary applications. I don't know if a Tesla turbine would hydro-dynamically "stall" in the sense of a centrepital flow turbine.

Another point is would this turbine/pump design scale? Power conversions where laminar/tubulent flow characteristics predominate can cause major design headaches. That's one of the reasons why there seems to be a lower size limit to efficient gas turbines.

Oh yeah, Tesla's da man. If it wasn't for Edison, Tesla would be the presiding genius of the turn of the 20th century.

03-19-2003, 04:56 AM
Thanks for the replies.

I am aware of the HSM article. What I need, is info on running a turbine on liquid fuel, not compressed air or steam.
I have bought anything Lindsay had on it.
There is not much info in the books that is not rehashed over and over in all of the Tesla books.
With todays materials and seals etc. I believe that this concept would make a viable power source for vehicles.
It can eliminate todays incredibly complex control systems used on piston engines and the precision machining necessary.
Most of the potential energy in fuel is wasted in todays conventional engines, partially because they must be run at relatively low temps. to prevent failure.

The inherent design of the Tesla turbine eliminates that concern and temps up to the failure point of the materials can be used.
If I remember correctly for every 100* F increase in turbine inlet temp. power increases 100%.

I'm not an engineer and don't understand the complex math involved, but due to the relative simplicity of the basic design, know I can build one if I knew how the combustion chamber/s etc. should be designed.

I am aware of Tesla's valvular conduit, that he designed for the inlet of such an explosion engine, but the combustion chamber is not described in any detail at all.

I have been dreaming of building a working Tesla turbine and installing it in a vehicle for years, since reading about it when I was still in high school. The turbine part seems simple enough. Its the starting, combustion, exhaust and control mechanisms that are complete unknowns.

I also was following D.J. Youngs Tesla turbine project on the internet several years ago before it mysteriously vanished from the web. He was using propane and compressed air, but couldn't get output HP greater than the air that was supplied, at the last I've seen of it, (about 2 years ago).

Any info at all about it is appreciated. Please keep the replies coming. Thanks in advance.

Thank you again for your responses.

03-19-2003, 12:12 PM
yf: The author of the HSM article, Jeffrey Maier, includes references to a group of Tesla turbine hobbyists and some references to Tesla turbine design. I do not know if there is any info there on combustion chamber design. For any combustion chamber design you are going to have to provide compressed air at a pressure greater than the inlet pressure to your turbine and the fuel likewise. If you used a Tesla pump to supply the compressed air you would have a turbine engine. I do not think you would find it efficient. The Boeing company for several years tried to build an efficient turbine engine for trucks and couldn't do it. Truckers loved driving their prototype bcause of the smoothness and relative freedom from gear shifting. The turbine was so smaLL it was hard to believe. The sides of the hood had windows in them and people would look thru and wonder what was powering the truck.

I don't believe a Tesla turbine will be as efficient as the aerodynamic bucket type. If it was, I think that is what would be used in aircraft today because the simple discs would be far cheaper to produce.

03-19-2003, 12:55 PM
Check out the Tesla Engine Builders Association web site. http://www.execpc.com/~teba/main.html
I am a member of this group. They have a small magazine that is published every few months. Lots of good information from guys that are actually building these machines. Back issues are available.

[This message has been edited by fixxit (edited 03-19-2003).]

03-19-2003, 01:07 PM
chekck out this sight, and links http://www.angelfire.com/mi3/gmpr/ptbc.htm


03-19-2003, 03:30 PM
Forrest, Edison has been riding on Tesla's coat tails since forever. Edison used to tout DC power, he purchased a Westinghouse Ac generator and used to electrocute cats and dogs publicly.
He beat tesla out of 65,000 when Tesla worked for him by crawfishing on a money offer.
You need to read the interesting story of tesla's life. He was so smart I am not sure he was human. He was a machinist extrodinair.
He (like me) found out the Patent office was just a rip off for ideals and did not patent most his inventions. A lot died with the man. The Nazi's were skulking around the island he was producing a power tower on to try to steal his Weapon of mass destruction, and the US goverment dynamited it to stop anyone using it. The story is Tuneska Russia was not a meteor, but a Tesla weapon pointed at the north pole to gather money and fame for tesla.
(but what do I know, I am just another electrician.) Edison had a team of scientists he hired and patented all thier inventions, Tesla had a couple of apprentices. He invented the Ac power priciples we still use today, in the late 1800's.
Good reading there.

some tesla links...

[This message has been edited by ibewgypsie (edited 03-19-2003).]

03-19-2003, 04:22 PM
I don't know about the turbines, but I've read many of the books on
Tesla's life. Edison certainly can be credited with giving Tesla his start in the US, but also for "screwing" him out of what was then a major amount of money. I have a PBS video about Tesla that shows some of the electrocutions that Edison did on animals. Shows a large Bull elephant standing on a platform getting Zapped. It's unbelieveable. Some other Tesla firsts were a radio remote controlled boat in the late 1890's, AC motors,first X-ray photos, and finally radio was credited to him.
It is hard to believe anyone could be that brilliant.

Spin Doctor
03-19-2003, 08:20 PM
The big draw back to a Telsa Tubine power source in a vehicle INHO would be the unit that provides the working fluid for the tubine. While they will theoritically put out large amounts of power you have to have away of heating the working fluid. That takes up space, weighs a lot and costs you efficincy. I've always wondered about a conventional gas tubine driving a generator/alternator with a MHD system to suck as much energy as possible out of the exauhst gases.

03-19-2003, 10:38 PM
This just from memory, didn't Tesla use the aerodynamics in the combustion chamber to actually suck the intake air into the chamber? At some point in the combustion process, there's a negative pressure at the intake valve, which is a reed, basically. Maybe check out the WWII buzz bomb, how was the induction done?

03-21-2003, 01:08 PM
Thanks for all the replies and links. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Spin doctor,

Thanks for you reply, but what I would like to do is run a turbine directly off expanding burning fuel, not indirectly by externally heating a working fluid and then directing it at the rotor, like in a steam plant.


Thank you also,

That is exactly what I think this turbine is capable of. Tesla did some development of direct gasoline powered turbines. Very little info is available on it, which is basically rehashed in all the Tesla books I have read. They all have the same murky drawing of a cutaway combustion chamber calling out the nozzle as a "slot".

One very appealing feature of It is that onces the ignition circuit gets the turbine started, the chamber heats up and esentially diesels and the circuit may be shut down. At least that is how Tesla described it.

In all of HSM land is there anyone out there who has actually built and experimented with A Tesla turbine?

TIA http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Forrest Addy
03-21-2003, 01:36 PM
When all is said and done, you're stuck with the Otto cycle even with tesla turbines.

The perfect engine would look like a pillow block with a shaft sticking out of it. There's also a lever for mechanical control and a connector for electrical control. Its operation is utterly silent. They cost about $20 to make and can be made in larger or smaller sizes and outputs indefinitely.

It does not work on the Otto cycle. No heat is rejected except friction in the bearings giving it 99.99% conversion efficiency.

Any kind of fuel goes in and power comes out. It emits drinkable liquid water and CO2 Anything else in the fuel is transmuted into gold.

[This message has been edited by Forrest Addy (edited 03-21-2003).]

03-21-2003, 03:19 PM

We may be stuck with the otto cycle today.

If we don't experiment and research other engines now, we will be stuck with the otto cycle tommorow too.

There is always another way of doing something. We just may not be aware of it yet.

BTW can you elaborate and describe the process of transmuting to gold. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

03-21-2003, 08:28 PM
Forrest... Yeah. I thought I had that engine figured out, using a triple expansion steam engine and hydrogen peroxide injected through a silver catalyst screen and adding kerosene and more water. My controls expertise would keep it all from blowing up or keeping the pop-off valve from expelling all the efficiency. Ahh soo,Lots of other folks working on same project. THEY have more money than me. even if I perfect Mine I don't stand a chance in reeling in the money on my ideal.

03-23-2003, 04:05 AM
Here is the same picture that all the Tesla books show describing the gasoline powered turbine.


John Stevenson
03-23-2003, 06:22 AM
Tesla did invent the radio and subsequent investigations have credited that to him but Marconi is still down in text books and schools as the inventor.
Problem is the writted record can't be erased.
I did sciences at school and touched on any subjects Tesla was never mentioned in any of my texts.
If one guy even got stitched up in history it was Tesla.
Somewhere the book on his life is an e-book. I downloaded it a couple of years ago, sure made good reading.

John S.

03-23-2003, 11:35 AM
A couple little facts are of interest.

one is that if you are going to use a "conventional" engine of any kind, which uses heat to expand etc a working fluid, you have subjected yourself to the laws of thermodynamics. I don't care if you don't think so, it's up to you to prove mathematically "why not". The proof of "why" is already done.
That being the case, you need to have the working fluid very hot going in, and extract energy from it so that it is cold coming out. Otherwise you leave energy "on the table" unused.

Second, the tesla turbine has some problems with practical materials which can stand high heat, since the inner discs don't cool well. And if you cool them, they cool the working fluid, and you leave unused energy in the cooling medium.

Just because the name of Tesla is on something, doesn't mean it works, works well, or can be practically made.

Kinda like the "Edison" battery. It gets hyped as a "suppressed" technology every so often, with the magic "edison" name on it.
Truth is, it has applications, but the old lead acid has worked better for most uses, so the "edison" just got left. New batteries are better than either one.

Tesla had inventions like that too.

Spin Doctor
03-23-2003, 03:03 PM
On of the simplest power output devices i've ever heard of is the newer infrared photovoltaic devices that can produce electricity from combustion sources without any mechanical systems.

03-23-2003, 04:48 PM
Spin doctor,

Can you elaborate?

Is that something that can be made in the shop?

Is it developed enough for practical use?

More info would be appreciated. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif


03-24-2003, 10:40 PM
Has anyone here used the Tesla Turbine ( featured in HSM) on high pressure steam... 100 to 200 psig and what was the result? I've been wanting to build a steam engine to drive a generator and I'm wondering about the efficincy of the Tesla vs a standard recipocating engine? B.G.

Tom Kaye
03-25-2003, 12:04 AM
Found this using google.com search and the key word Tesla Turbine- Tom

from Popular Mechanics Magazine December 1911
by E. F. Stearns

Engineers and men of science throughout the world are awaiting with unusual interest the completion of tests of a new steam turbine designed by Nikola Tesla, which preliminary experiments indicate will give enormous power from a comparatively small and extremely lightweight engine. Ten horsepower to a pound of weight has already been developed with the engines that have been tested and enthusiasts who have witnessed the work of the turbine declare the perfect rotor has at last been found. To what extent this is true, time and the construction of larger units than have yet been used must prove. At present, while the practical experimental stage has not yet been passed, the entire engineering world is profoundly interested in the work that has been done, and awaits future development with much concern.

Operation of the Tesla engine depends upon two well-known properties of fluids: adhesion - the tendency, for example, of a certain amount of water to cling to a smooth metal surface, even when the bulk of the water has been shaken off; and viscosity, the resistance of fluids to molecular separation, the tendency of one drop, in a mass of fluid, to drag adjoining drops with it, if set in motion.

In its simplest form, the new idea takes the shape of the inventor's little "air-diffuser." This consists of half a dozen very thin steel disks, some 9 or 10 in. in diameter, set horizontally, about 1/8 in. apart, on the upright shaft of a small, horizontal electric motor, the center of each disk being cut away in a 3-in. circle. With current switched into the motor, the disks revolve, and instantly strong suction can be felt by the hand held several inches above the axis, while a powerful current of air is blown from the spaces between the disks. The air, in short, is being sucked into the central opening and hurled out at the periphery. Consider now that disks and shaft have been inclosed in an air-tight case, with an inlet at the axis and an outlet at one point of the periphery; we have an air pump, a Tesla blower, one of which, now in operation, is delivering 10,000 cu. ft. of air per minute.

The Turbine, Invented by Nikola Tesla,
Which is Based on a New Principle

03-25-2003, 09:37 AM
I was interested in how the Tesla turbine compares to the standard piston type steam engine. Has anyone here build the Tesla featured in the magazine and ran it on steam?
Any reports on how it worked. The one in the HSM used aluminum, I'm thinking that for steam perhaps steel or stainless steel for the runner blade.

Rich Carlstedt
03-26-2003, 02:37 AM
It has an amazing power to weight ratio and is very simple in design...but efficiency may not be there...I have no numbers to varify this, but remember guys...a steam engine does NOT have a HorsePower rating...its the Boiler that carries the rating...ie 300 HP.
How else would a Stanley Steamer set the world speed record in 1903 at 127 MPH and useing a stock steam engine !
I think they called them 12 HP at the time.
What really happened was a souped up boiler and an inverted canoe body and oversized wheels...but the engine was stock, and smaller than that thing you got in your riding lawnmower !

03-26-2003, 09:41 AM
Yes... I understood that the Stanley later models had either a 20 or 30 HP engine. I'm motivated to build a Tesla Turbine and run on steam pressure to see how it works. I was just wondering if anyone had any tips??