The rotor is fabricated from 16 shaft-mounted discs, each with a contoured edge to reduce turbulence. The rotor spins on low friction bearings.

An injection manifold directs a stream of air through a lengthwise slot in the turbine shell. The stream flows between the disc spaces in a spiral path and eventually exits through exhaust ports located around the center of each disc. This coil of moving air “drags” the discs in a circle causing the rotor to turn.

You can build this project using cardboard sheets obtained from end covers of discarded 3-ring binders, hand towel and bathroom tissue rolls, a high speed electric drill used as a lathe, basic hardware, white glue and simple hand tools.

Caution: Anything attached to the rotor axle must be securely held in place. With a sufficient air pressure, the turbine rotor can spool up to several thousand RPM in just a few seconds!

Step 1: Turbine Shell

Picture of Turbine Shell
Picture of Turbine Shell

The shell or housing of the turbine is made from one of those jumbo, bathroom tissue rolls used in public restrooms of chain restrauants and big box retail outlets. Make sure the edges are not dinged! As an alternative, you can use a cardboard mailing tube with the same dimensions (3-1/2″ L x 3-1/2″ ID x 1/16″ thick).

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