Good news for everyone who wants to understand the working of a jet engine, but doesn’t have the necessary technical knowledge to understand fully this seemingly complicated machine. I am going to explain to you in very simple terms about the design and scientific principles that make a jet engine. It’s not rocket science after all, but quite close to it!
The underlying principle in a jet engine’s working is a gas turbine. We all have learned about a steam turbine or water turbine in which a turbine rotates a shaft for producing electricity. A gas turbine has the same function except it uses highly pressurized air to drive the turbine instead of liquid water or steam. This turbine is then utilized by a propeller to generate thrust.
Now I explain the process in more detail. Since we need compressed air to induce substantial pressure on the propeller, the intake air is first compressed by a compressor. The compressed air then finds its way to the combustion chamber. The fuel ignites and immediately expands the air a little, generating significant force to drive the turbine. Power from the turbine is then transmitted through a shaft to the compressor and the propeller. The propeller then rotates after receiving power from the shaft through a gear box.
This design was a turboprop that was used in airliners and other big jet aircrafts. For smaller crafts like M1 tank, turboshafts are used instead. They operate on the same principle, but they have some design differences. There are two compressors involved in a turboshaft, a high-end and a low-end. The gas pressure is significantly higher than the turboprop, so high-pressure shaft and turbine are used. The shaft here doesn’t power a propeller; it powers a multi-bladed fan.
Nowadays, jumbo jets and other larger aircraft use high-bypass Turbofans that have larger fans and bypass some of the inlet air to the core. They have higher operating efficiencies at subsonic speeds and can accelerate faster than traditional jet engines.
So, this is how a jet engine works. Hope you enjoyed it.