A turbine is any kind of spinning device that uses the action of a fluid to produce work. Typical fluids are: air, wind, water, steam and helium. Windmills and hydroelectric dams have used turbine action for decades to turn the core of an electrical generator to produce power for both industrial and residential consumption. Simpler turbines are much older, with the first known appearance dating to the time of ancient Greece. In the history of energy conversion, however, the gas turbine is relatively new. The first practical gas turbine used to generate electricity ran at Neuchatel, Switzerland in 1939, and was developed by the Brown Boveri Company. The first gas turbine powered airplane flight also took place in 1939 in Germany, using the gas turbine developed by Hans P. von Ohain. In England, the 1930s’ invention and development of the aircraft gas turbine by Frank Whittle resulted in a similar British flight in 1941.
Figure 1. Schematic for a) an aircraft jet engine; and b) a land-based gas turbine
The name "gas turbine" is somewhat misleading, because too many it implies a turbine engine that uses gas as its fuel. Actually a gas turbine (as shown schematically in Fig. 1) has a compressor to draw in and compress gas (most usually air); a combustor (or burner) to add fuel to heat the compressed air; and a turbine to extract power from the hot air flow. The gas turbine is an internal combustion (IC) engine employing a continuous combustion process. This differs from the intermittent combustion occurring in Diesel and automotive IC engines. Because the 1939 origin of the gas turbine lies simultaneously in the electric power field and in aviation, there have been a profusion of "other names" for the gas turbine. For electrical power generation and marine applications it is generally called a gas turbine, also a combustion turbine (CT), a turbo shaft engine, and sometimes a gas turbine engine. For aviation applications it is