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Engineering Atoms

at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2015

Studying at Cambridge


How does a Jet Engine work?

How does a Jet Engine work?

For cars on the ground creating a force to drive us forward is simple: the engine makes the wheels turn, that push off the ground driving the car forward. For planes in flight, there is nothing to push off, so a different principle is required to create propulsion.

Imagine you’re standing on a skateboard holding a fire extinguisher. If you were to open the fire extinguisher you would create a stream of gas, which would propel you in the opposite direction. Sir Issac Newton, first described the science underlying this principle, back in the 17th century in his three laws of motion. The turbine engine works on the same principle – by forcing air quickly out of the back of the engine it creates a force pushing the plane forwards. In order to create this fast moving stream of gas, the jet turbine engine is used. This works on the model of ‘Suck-Squeeze-Bang-Blow’. The diagram below shows an example of engine with the various parts and their purpose labelled.Jet Engine Explained


Also check out the following video from our colleagues the Naked Scientists: