Alan Swithenbank

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Alan Swithenbank <> to Marcin Jakubowski <> cc date Wed, Jun 4, 2008 at 11:55 AM subject Re: Solar Turbine project mailed-by

hide details 11:55 AM (47 minutes ago)


Hello Marcin,

On Mon, 2 Jun 2008, Marcin Jakubowski wrote:

   Hello Alan,
   We are building a solar concentrator electric system, and considering the
   Tesla turbine as the engine.
   Please see:

Looks like a very worthwhile project!

   Do you think that a Tesla turbine will work here? Do you have results that
   could be used in our work?

Most of what I have that would support the kind of work you propose is at this time anecdotal. For example, just a few weeks ago I gave a few pointers to a team of engineering students at Cornell University who, for one of those "build a machine to climb an incline" type competitions that engineering schools put on for their students. Using an air-powered Tesla turbine with a fairly clever worm-gear reduction to get power to their wheels, those students won the competition with the lightest and fastest machine by far. And, there are other projects, larger and smaller that have had success.

I believe a Tesla turbine would work in your project. I will be honest and say I can not be sure it would be the best choice for your project. If you are trying for maximum simplicity and reliability, then it could be a very good and functional choice. If maximum efficiency is your absolute goal, then it may not be what you are looking for.

At this time I am building a dynomometer testbed for my 6-inch turbine (I nearly finished the sensing electronics just this past weekend). When I complete that work and testing over the next month or so I will be able to say a lot more definitively what the power expectations may be. That will all go up on my websites as soon as I can, in the limited time I have, make it happen. I am also working out 3-dimensional flow modeling which will be a help in reliable design parameter specifications and turbine optimizations (but, that is not likely to be working until late this year to early next year).

I'm certain that better than the 25% efficiency mentioned in the link to the turbine design page you provide can be achieved. With regards to that, the "seals" shown in the pictures there are basically not used in most designs these days. Usually the runner is just made a bit wider than the inlet and that is sufficient to capture the available power. And, that makes construction even more simple.