The Bladeless Tesla Turbine

This entry was posted by on Saturday, 8 May, 2010 at

Wind turbines provide power in many locations, and are under construction throughout the US and throughout the world. Regulators sometimes block wind turbine installations, for two main reasons: The turbine blade can harm birds, and the blade spins around which disrupts some types of radar. A design originally sketched out by Nikola Tesla a hundred years ago eliminates these issues by creating a disk turbine that collects wind energy without requiring a blade.

It’s possible to build a tesla turbine at home with spare parts. A researcher at the University of Washington constructed a tesla turbine from hard drive platters. A hard drive already includes a platter that spins around, so it is already useful for building the turbine. This researcher encases the hard drive in a ceramic casing to hold it in place, and then attaches it to a shaft. Compared to the size of most windmills, this isn’t very big, although it should be possible to attach several of these systems to a rack to create a home made tesla turbine array. According to the University of North Texas, larger tesla turbines are not as efficient as other large windmills, but the smaller tesla turbines are very effective, so they are useful to power smaller sensors and machines that do not require large amounts of power.

The tesla turbine is not in major production because of materials science issues when it was invented. According to The University of Texas, a tesla turbine disk has to be able to stand up to high temperatures. Ceramics and metals found in technology such as hard drive platters allow the original turbine plan to be implemented. According to the University of Texas page, it is even possible to create a microturbine with a wooden disk, although you won’t see the type of performance you can get with other materials.

Tesla turbines are under development by labs funded by the US military. These turbines are very effective at small sizes, so they are portable and lightweight enough to be carried by individual soldiers. This is very useful, especially in battlefields located in windy areas such as the desert. Solar power is possible at night through solar thermal plants, but those aren’t portable, and a tesla turbine is. Tesla turbines provide a source of energy for hikers, travelers, forest rangers, and anyone else who is taking a trip on foot and doesn’t want to carry around heavy batteries.

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