In case you didn’t know this yet, compressed air is pretty awesome. With simple mechanical systems – pumps – energy can be stored and used for an infinite amount of applications. What I like about compressed air is how simple and accessible it is. Anyone with a bike pump can start moving air to greater pressures. Soda-pop bottles can be turned into air tanks, and by looking a little online and on Instructables, you’ll find people who’ve used compressed air to do everything from shooting water balloons to powering a bicycle.
In this Instructable, I will show how I made a miniature compressed air turbine.
8/16/13: Thank you for the feature!
8/16/13: I’m just shy of 9000 views in barely 12 hours! Thanks everyone!
Step 1: Video!
Step 2: “A Compressed What-!?”: Theory of Operation
Let’s start from the very beginning, shall we?
All matter is composed of atoms. In solids, these atoms are packed very tightly together, which is why they are -erm, solid. The atoms are forced together and don’t flow around much. In a gas however, the atoms are able to move around freely. So freely in fact, that gases don’t have a “form”, and instead take the form of whatever container they are in. Gases can be held at different pressures. The pressure of a gas is a reflection of how many atoms are forced into a given space. By using a pump, one can force more gas atoms into a space, increasing the pressure. If you have a container filled with a gas that has had extra atoms pumped into it, and you open the container, the high pressure atoms will move to the area with the low pressure atoms until the overall pressure is equal. The concept that a high pressure gas will move to an area of lower pressure is the concept that will drive our compressed air turbine.
The compressed gas will move through the turbine to the area outside the turbine. As it moves through it, the air will push the fins, and cause the turbine to rotate. The gases will move toward the center of the turbine, where they exit the exhaust hole.
I made a really fun .gif showing the air molecules being compressed, and then moving the turbine! I hope it helps!