Turbomachinery: Types, Cycles, Applications

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

Turbomachinery is a field of engineering that deals with the design, analysis, and operation of machines that transfer energy between a fluid and a rotating element. These machines are used in a wide range of applications, including power generation, aerospace, oil and gas, and many others. Turbomachinery plays a crucial role in modern society, enabling the efficient conversion of energy from one form to another.

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Turbomachinery includes a variety of devices, such as pumps, compressors, turbines, and fans, each with its specific application and operating principles. These machines transfer energy to or from a fluid by creating a pressure difference or imparting momentum to the fluid. Turbomachinery is designed to operate at high speeds and with high efficiency, with a focus on minimizing energy losses and maximizing performance. Let us see Turbomachinery in detail along with its types, Cycles, and Applications.

What is Turbomachinery?

Turbomachinery refers to a class of machines that transfer energy between a rotor and a fluid. These machines are widely used in various industries, including power generation, aviation, and oil and gas. Turbomachinery includes turbines, compressors, and pumps, each designed to perform specific functions in different applications. The design and analysis of turbomachinery involve a complex combination of fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and Mechanical Engineering. Engineers must carefully consider factors such as aerodynamics, structural integrity, and material properties when designing and optimizing these machines. Additionally, the development of modern turbomachinery relies heavily on advanced computational methods and modeling techniques.

Turbomachinery continues to evolve as new materials, technologies, and design techniques become available. As a result, engineers in this field are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible, creating machines that are more efficient, reliable, and versatile than ever before. With their ability to convert energy from one form to another, turbomachines will continue to be a critical component of many important technologies in the years to come.

Types of Turbomachinery

Turbomachinery is a class of machines that transfers energy between a rotor and a fluid. The three main types of turbomachinery are turbines, compressors, and pumps. Turbomachinery is used in various applications, such as power generation, aviation, transportation, and industrial processes.


A turbine is a type of turbomachinery that is designed to convert fluid energy into Mechanical Energy. It typically consists of a set of rotating blades mounted on a shaft, which is connected to a generator or another mechanical device. The fluid, which can be water, steam, or gas, enters the turbine at a high velocity and passes over the blades, causing them to rotate. This rotation generates mechanical energy that can be used to produce electricity, drive a pump, or perform other work.

Turbines are used in a variety of applications, including power generation, aviation, marine propulsion, and industrial processes. They are commonly classified based on the type of fluid they operate on, such as steam turbines, gas turbines, and hydraulic turbines. Turbines are highly efficient and can generate large amounts of energy, making them a critical component in many industries. As the world continues to transition towards renewable sources of energy, the use of turbines for wind and hydroelectric power is also growing rapidly.


Compressors are machines that are used to increase the pressure and density of gases. They are widely used in a range of industrial applications, from power generation and oil and gas processing to refrigeration and air conditioning. Compressors work by reducing the volume of a gas, which increases its pressure and temperature. The compressed gas can then be used for various purposes, such as powering turbines or driving industrial processes.

There are several types of compressors, including centrifugal compressors, axial compressors, and reciprocating compressors. Centrifugal compressors use a rotating impeller to compress the gas, while axial compressors use rotating blades to compress the gas. Reciprocating compressors, on the other hand, use a piston to compress the gas. Each type of compressor has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of compressor depends on the specific requirements of the application. For example, centrifugal compressors are often used in high-volume, low-pressure applications, while reciprocating compressors are more suitable for low-volume, high-pressure applications.


Pumps are machines that are used to move fluids from one location to another. They are used in a variety of applications, including water supply, agriculture, irrigation, and many industrial processes. There are many different types of pumps, each designed to handle different types of fluids and operate under different conditions.

One of the most common types of pumps is the centrifugal pump. Centrifugal pumps work by creating a rotating motion in the fluid, which causes it to move towards the outer edge of the pump impeller. This creates a flow of fluid that is then directed through the pump casing and out through the discharge pipe. Centrifugal pumps are used in many different applications, including water supply, wastewater treatment, and chemical processing.

Various Cycles used in Turbomachinery

Turbomachinery, such as gas turbines, steam turbines, and compressors, operate on various cycles that determine the thermodynamic performance of the machine. Some of the cycles commonly used in turbomachinery include:

Brayton Cycle

The Brayton cycle is a thermodynamic cycle used in gas turbine engines to produce power. It is a constant pressure cycle, meaning that the combustion process occurs at constant pressure, which makes it more efficient than other cycles that occur at constant volume. The cycle is named after George Brayton, who was the first to patent a gas turbine engine in 1872.

The Brayton cycle consists of four main components: a compressor, a combustion chamber, a turbine, and a heat exchanger. Air is drawn into the compressor, where it is compressed to high pressure and temperature. The compressed air is then fed into the combustion chamber, where it is mixed with fuel and ignited, producing high-temperature, high-pressure gases. The hot gases then flow through the turbine, where they expand and do work on the turbine blades, which turn a shaft. The shaft is connected to a generator, which produces electricity. Finally, exhaust gases are released into the atmosphere or used for other purposes.

Rankine Cycle

The Rankine cycle is a thermodynamic cycle used in steam turbine power plants and other applications where steam is used to generate electricity or mechanical work. The cycle consists of four main processes:

  1. Heat addition: Liquid water is pumped from a low-pressure to a high-pressure boiler, where it is heated to its boiling point and transformed into steam. The heat source can be any fuel source, such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear energy.

  2. Expansion: The high-pressure steam flows through a turbine, where it expands and does work by driving the turbine blades. The turbine converts the thermal energy of the steam into mechanical energy.

  3. Heat rejection: After exiting the turbine, the steam enters a condenser where it is cooled and condensed back into a liquid. The condenser uses a cooling water source, such as a river or cooling tower, to remove the heat from the steam.

  4. Pumping: The condensed water is then pumped back to the boiler, where it is heated again to repeat the cycle.

The Rankine cycle operates on the principle of the Carnot cycle, which is a theoretical thermodynamic cycle that provides the maximum possible efficiency for a heat engine. While the Rankine cycle is not as efficient as the Carnot cycle due to various inefficiencies, it is still an important cycle used in many industrial and power generation applications. The Rankine cycle is used in coal-fired power plants, nuclear power plants, and other steam turbine applications where electricity is generated.

Otto Cycle

The Otto cycle is a thermodynamic cycle that is used in internal combustion engines, such as those found in cars and motorcycles. The cycle involves four processes: intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust. During the intake process, a mixture of air and fuel is drawn into the engine’s cylinder. The mixture is then compressed during the compression process, which raises its temperature and pressure. In the combustion process, the compressed mixture is ignited by a spark plug, causing it to rapidly expand and do work on the piston. Finally, the exhaust process expels the burned gases from the engine’s cylinder.

The Otto cycle is named after its inventor, Nikolaus Otto, a German engineer who developed the first successful four-stroke internal combustion engine in 1876. The Otto cycle is commonly used in modern gasoline-powered engines, which operate on a variant of the cycle called the spark-ignition cycle. In spark-ignition engines, a spark plug ignites the fuel-air mixture during the combustion process, whereas in diesel engines, the fuel is ignited by compression alone, which follows a different cycle known as the Diesel cycle. The efficiency of the Otto cycle depends on various factors, such as compression ratio, engine speed, and fuel quality. Improvements in these factors, as well as the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, are driving ongoing improvements in the efficiency and environmental impact of automotive engines.

Diesel Cycle

The Diesel cycle is a thermodynamic cycle used in diesel engines to convert the chemical energy in diesel fuel into mechanical energy. The cycle involves four processes:

  1. Intake: The engine draws in air, which is compressed by the piston as it moves upward.

  2. Compression: The compressed air is heated by high compression, and diesel fuel is injected into the combustion chamber. The fuel vaporizes and ignites spontaneously due to the high temperature of the air.

  3. Expansion: The high-pressure gas produced by the combustion of the fuel forces the piston down, producing mechanical work.

  4. Exhaust: The exhaust valve opens, and the remaining gas is expelled from the cylinder.

The Diesel cycle is similar to the Otto cycle, used in gasoline engines, except that the combustion of fuel is achieved by high compression instead of spark ignition. The higher compression ratio in diesel engines allows for a more efficient conversion of fuel into mechanical work, resulting in higher fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions. Diesel engines are commonly used in heavy-duty applications, such as trucks, buses, and marine vessels, due to their high torque output and fuel efficiency. However, diesel engines also produce higher levels of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which have environmental and health impacts.

Applications of Turbomachinery

Turbomachinery finds a wide range of applications in various industries due to its ability to transfer energy between a fluid and a rotating element efficiently. Here are some common applications of turbomachinery:

  1. Power Generation: Turbomachinery plays a vital role in power generation, where steam turbines, gas turbines, and hydro turbines are used to convert thermal or mechanical energy into electricity. These machines use blades to transfer energy from high-pressure fluids to a rotating shaft that drives a generator.

  2. Aerospace: Turbomachinery is used in the aerospace industry to power aircraft engines, where gas turbines are used to provide thrust. Turbofans, turbojets, and turboprops are some of the popular aircraft engines that use turbomachinery.

  3. Oil and Gas Industry: In the oil and gas industry, turbomachinery is used to move fluids through pipelines, compress gases for transportation, and generate electricity for drilling and production operations. Centrifugal pumps, compressors, and turbines are commonly used machines in the oil and gas industry.

  4. HVAC Systems: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems also use turbomachinery to move air and fluids throughout a building. Centrifugal fans, blowers, and pumps are used in HVAC systems to circulate air, cool or heat a space, and maintain a comfortable indoor environment.

  5. Chemical and Process Industries: Turbomachinery is also used in chemical and process industries, where it plays a crucial role in moving fluids through a production process. Pumps, compressors, and turbines are used to handle fluids at high temperatures and pressures, and for chemical reactions.

  6. Marine Industry: In the marine industry, turbomachinery is used to power ships and boats. Marine diesel engines, gas turbines, and steam turbines are some of the popular machines used in the marine industry.

Advantages of Turbomachinery

Turbomachinery, including turbines, compressors, and pumps, offers several advantages in various industrial applications. Some of the advantages of turbomachinery include:

  1. High Efficiency: Turbomachinery is designed for high efficiency, which means that it can convert more energy into useful work compared to other types of machines. This is especially important in applications where energy costs are high, such as power generation and chemical processing.

  2. High Power Density: Turbomachinery can generate a high amount of power in a relatively small size, making them ideal for applications where space is limited. This is particularly important in aviation and space applications, where weight and size constraints are critical.

  3. Flexibility: Turbomachinery can be designed to operate under a wide range of conditions, including different fluids, pressures, and temperatures. This makes them suitable for use in various applications, including water supply, oil and gas drilling, and air conditioning.

  4. Low Maintenance: Turbomachinery is designed to operate for long periods of time with minimal maintenance, reducing downtime and maintenance costs. This is particularly important in critical applications, such as power generation, where downtime can result in significant economic losses.

  5. Environmental Benefits: Turbomachinery can offer environmental benefits, such as reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality. For example, gas turbines can be designed to operate on natural gas, which produces lower carbon emissions compared to coal-fired power plants.

Limitations of Turbomachinery

Turbomachinery, which includes devices such as pumps, turbines, and compressors, has several limitations that can impact their performance and functionality. Some of the main limitations of turbomachinery are:

  1. Operating Range: Turbomachinery is designed to operate within specific ranges of flow rates, pressures, and temperatures. Operating outside of these ranges can result in reduced performance, increased wear and tear, and even catastrophic failure.

  2. Efficiency: Turbomachinery is not 100% efficient, meaning that a portion of the energy supplied to the machine is lost as heat or friction. This can limit the overall efficiency of the system in which the turbomachinery is used.

  3. Complexity: Turbomachinery can be complex and expensive to design, manufacture, and maintain. The complexity of the machinery can also increase the risk of failures and downtime.

  4. Maintenance: Turbomachinery requires regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and prevent damage or failure. This maintenance can be costly and time-consuming.

  5. Corrosion and Erosion: Turbomachinery components are exposed to corrosive and erosive environments, which can damage the blades, impellers, and other components over time. This can reduce the lifespan of the machinery and increase maintenance requirements.

  6. Noise and Vibration: Turbomachinery can generate significant noise and vibration, which can be disruptive and even dangerous if not properly managed.

  7. Size and Weight: Turbomachinery can be large and heavy, which can limit its applicability in certain settings. This can also increase transportation and installation costs.

Important GATE Notes
Free and Forced Vibration Simple Harmonic Motion
Zeroth and First Laws of Thermodynamics Universal Joint
First Law of Thermodynamics Helical Gear
Triangle Law of Forces Connecting Rod
Types of Support Constant Acceleration
Mechanical Energy Constant Velocity

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