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Proceedings of the ASME 2014 Power Conference

POWER2014
July 28-31, 2014, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

POWER2014-32069
NUMERICAL SIMULATION OF A COMPRESSED AIR DRIVEN TESLA TURBINE

M Salman Siddiqui, Humza Ahmed,


Shaheer Ahmed
Air University Islamabad, Pakistan

ABSTRACT been difficulty in finding an efficient nozzle for this


This paper presents the Computational Fluid Dynamics
turbine, much as it is difficult to find an efficient
analysis of a Tesla bladeless turbine using compressed
air as the working fluid. Multiple flow configurations are diffuser for pumps and compressors. Thus the
analyzed using both Laminar and the turbulent efficiencies achieved are not as high as it might get
behaviors. The loading coefficient and the efficiency of achieved. This has hindered wide use of this turbine.
turbines is evaluated for both the 2D and 3D cases.
But due to the ability of the turbine to work with
Multiples disc is a viable option but it is been observed
they result in loss in performance for the laminar and high viscosity fluids and those containing solid
turbulent simulations. In addition the inflection point of particles, it is believed that the turbine will be used
the laminar flow vanishes in the turbulent flow; the work in the future[2].
presented is an initial step towards the realization of
The turbine can work with both laminar or turbulent
Tesla turbine
flow, each having its own advantages. The Tesla
turbine can be used as a pump, a gas compressor or a
INTRODUCTION
turbine which can work with liquids, vapors or gases.
The Tesla turbine is a unique turbine as it
The turbine is designed in such a way that the nozzle
does not have blades but instead consists of flat,
imparts high velocity fluid nearly tangential to the
parallel, co-rotating discs that are spaced a small
discs. As the fluid flows past the discs it transfers
distance apart on a shaft. As the fluid flows in-
momentum and hence begins to flow in a spiral
between the discs it transfers its momentum to the
shape towards the centre of the disc. At the centre of
discs, which consequently results in shaft torque and
the disc, close to the shaft, the discs contain holes or
power. Tesla was able to design, fabricate and test
slot through the fluid gets exhausted. While working
the turbine, but could not get it incorporated into the
as pump or compressor the fluid flows in reverse,
industry[1].
from the holes at the centre of the discs, the fluid
In the years that followed efforts were made to find
flows in an outward spiral and is finally exhausted
the efficiency and performance of this turbine, both
through a diffuser. The shaft delivers power in the
analytically and experimentally. Most investigations
turbine, and is powered when being used as a pump
focused on the type of fluid, the size of the turbine or
or compressor.
the velocity of the fluid, while some were on the
The efficiency depends on the shaft speed, the inner
overall performance. It was found that the efficiency
and outer radii of the discs, the disc gap, the fluid
of the Tesla turbine rotor can be higher than, if not
properties and flow rate. The efficiency of the nozzle
equal to conventional rotors. However, there has

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and the cooperation between the nozzle and the discs transition and relaminarisation from turbulent to
also greatly affect the performance of the turbine. laminar."
The interest in the turbine was rekindled in the fifties
THE COMPUTATIONAL MODEL AND MESH
and a lot of research has been carried out on the GENERATION
turbine since then. Most research was done to The dimensions and design of Warren Rice's
analytically model the flow between the discs. experimental work were followed. Analysis on three
Efficiencies can be very high, but are limited due to models with comparable dimensions are made:
the losses occurring at the inlet and outlet of the ● "ratio of radii: r1/r2 = 6.06", "ratio of disc
rotor. The nozzles need to be long, but are not very gap to outer radius: r1/b = 200", "angle of
efficient. Due to this reason and more the actual nozzle is β = 20°" and Reb = ω.b2/v = 24"
efficiency is lower than what would be expected. ● Solving the Navier Stokes equations for
steady, incompressible flow for both laminar
COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS and turbulent cases and the two dimensional
To examine the fluid flow inside the Tesla turbine Ax symmetric Swirl and three dimensional
computational fluid dynamics is used using Fluent[3] approaches are also used.
and Gambit[4]. Unlike other turbines the Tesla
turbine uses smooth discs instead of blades. For this
paper the effects of the following parameters are
observed: loading coefficient, efficiency, degree of
reaction vs. flow rate. The rotational speed is kept
constant while the flow rate is varied; this is done to
mimic a virtual brake. The actual flow is in the
transitional regime and so both laminar and turbulent
flows are studied separately to find the effects of
each. This works is a first step towards analysis of
such a turbine using CFD tools. Firstly a simple case
of flow between two co-rotating discs is considered,
which is later enhanced to include the effects of the
outlet and finally a 3D model is analyzed to
incorporate the effects of the nozzle. Figure 1: Mesh Geometry 2D Case

WORK DONE SO FAR NUMERICAL METHOD


Looking at Tesla's American patents a lot of research The software package Fluent was used, which works
was carried out during the sixties and seventies. A lot on the Finite Volume Method. Using the double
of work was done considering the flow to be laminar precision characteristic the following commands
and incompressible and very little work was done on were given:
the turbulent flow. The flow depends on the Mach ● Segregated and implicit solver
and Reynolds numbers. The different flows ● Discretization: PRESTO!
considered are: "laminar, turbulent, forward ● SIMPLE for Pressure-Velocity coupling

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● For Momentum Second Order Upwind[5]
● "The standard k-ε model with near wall
treatment" was solved for the turbulent case
● y+<5 must be kept true for near the wall

BOUNDARY CONDITIONS
● The inlet was set as velocity-inlet boundary.
For the turbulent case the "turbulence
intensity is set to 5%", while
Figure 2: Velocity Magnitude
"nondimensional turbulent kinetic energy is
set to k* = 0.00375 and turbulent dissipation
rate is ε* = 2.6953e-4"
● Pressure-outlet boundary was selected for the
outlet with gauge pressure set as 0
(atmospheric pressure)
● The walls are adiabatic and discs and main
body have a no slip condition and are
"rotating at 0.005"
● Figure 3: Infection of Radial Velocity
CONVERGENCE CRITERIA
Different models took different times to solve
ranging from 4 minutes for a model having about
seven thousand quadrilateral cells to 4 days for the
model with close to 2.5 million cells (3D).
LAMINAR CASE
For the laminar case it is noticed that the flow has
very high acceleration at the inlet and outlet of the Figure 4: pressure distribution
turbine. Inflections are noticed on the profile of the
radial velocity at the centre of the disc. It is also
observed that at the middle of the gap the total
Characteristics curves of the turbine under the
pressure remains the same, this shows that no work laminar solution case are shown below
is done here. However, close to the walls a change in
pressure is observed which shows that work is done.
It is further observed that the loading coefficient and
flow rate are directly related. Thus with increasing
flow rate, the efficiency increases for a instant,
followed by a continuous fall.

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Figure 10: Loading Coefficient, Turbulent Case Figure 12: Loading Coefficient Turbulent Case

Figure 11: Efficiency Turbulent Case Figure 13: Comparison with Schmid[6]

ROTATING ASSEMBLY 3D ROTOR MODEL


It is also observed that the outlet causes a drop in
efficiency; this can be attributed to the fact that there
is a change in the flow direction and a change in
area. Considering the effects of the nozzles it is
evaluated that the losses are not very significant
while comparing loading coefficient and efficiency.
It is inferred that the torques increases for high
velocity flow. It is also noticed that the tangential
component of velocity remains the same from the
inlet to the outlet due to the high velocity magnitude.
The values are comparable with Schmidt[6]
Figure 14: Path lines covered by velocity magnitude

The three dimensional model incorporate the effects


of nozzle. They suggest that the losses are not very

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Figure 10: Loading Coefficient, Turbulent Case Figure 12: Loading Coefficient Turbulent Case

Figure 11: Efficiency Turbulent Case Figure 13: Comparison with Schmid[6]

ROTATING ASSEMBLY 3D ROTOR MODEL


It is also observed that the outlet causes a drop in
efficiency; this can be attributed to the fact that there
is a change in the flow direction and a change in
area. Considering the effects of the nozzles it is
evaluated that the losses are not very significant
while comparing loading coefficient and efficiency.
It is inferred that the torques increases for high
velocity flow. It is also noticed that the tangential
component of velocity remains the same from the
inlet to the outlet due to the high velocity magnitude.
The values are comparable with Schmidt[6]
Figure 14: Path lines covered by velocity magnitude

The three dimensional model incorporate the effects


of nozzle. They suggest that the losses are not very

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high when loading coefficient and efficiency are be concluded that multiple disc turbines are
compared with each other viable, but have low efficiencies for both
laminar and turbulent flow. The efficiency of
the simulated flow between the gap is lower
than what is experimentally proposed, this
could be due to the fact that the effects of the
nozzle are neglected. However, the
efficiencies of the 3D model and
experimental models are comparable. The
turbine is applicable for a low range of power
where other turbo machinery have low
Figure 15: Loading Coefficient, Turbulent case efficiencies.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The support from Air University and Higher
Education of Pakistan is acknowledged.

REFERENCES
[1] North, Richard, C.: „An Investigation of the Tesla Turbine”.
Thesis, University of Maryland, 1969
[2] Tesla Nikola: „Turbine”. Patent no: 1,061,206., United
States Patent Office, Nikola Tesla, of New York N. Y.,
Patented May 6, 1913;
[3] Fluent Inc.: Fluent/UNS/Rampant.„User’s Guide”, 2000
Figure 16: Efficiency, Turbulent Case [4] Fluent Inc.: Gambit. „User’s Guide”. 2000.
[5] Rice, Warren: „Tesla Turbomachinery”. Conference
CONCLUSION: Proceedings of the 4th International Tesla Symposium,
Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
The actual flow is in the transition regime
September 22‑ 25, 1991
and so is very difficult to simulate with CFD [6] Schmidt D. D.: „Final Report on Biomass Boundary Layer
tools. However, the results show different Turbine Power “ Energy Innovations Small Grant, EISG Final
Report, Appendix A FAR 00-06, 2002
aspects and attributes of the flow. It is found
that the inflection point of the laminar flow
vanishes in the turbulent flow, as the
turbulent flow has a balance in the axial
direction. Experimentally the velocity
profiles cannot be measured because of the
very small disc spacing, only the static
pressures at a point can be found, but CFD
can overcome this problem. Due to the high
swirl velocity and accelerations it becomes
difficult to get a good solution, but with more
iteration a solution can be converged to one
which can demonstrate physical facts. It can

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