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Types Of Turbines

Updated on October 21, 2011

A turbine is defined as a device which draws energy from a fluid moving at a high speed and converts that energy into work. The purpose of turbines is basically to produce electricity and to propel various machinery and objects via the mechanical energy produced.

Every turbine has a one basic principle that is: a moving fluid which can be water, steam, wind or gas is made to run over blades at a high speed, the blades induced by the moving fluid start rotating and as a result they start the rotor engine attached to the device which is responsible for converting the energy into work.

Turbines came into being after the industrial revolution when the entire world changed its shape. Almost the entire electricity of the world is produced by turbines; however the source of energy may vary. The first turbines to be used were the steam turbines but now on the basis of the fluid from which energy is extracted there are four major types of turbines:

  • Steam turbines
  • Water turbines
  • Wind turbines
  • Gas turbines

Modern steam turbine with generator installation in a power house.
Modern steam turbine with generator installation in a power house.

Steam Turbine

Steam turbines were the first turbines ever produced by man.

These turbines are composed of shaft blades and a rotor engine.

The steam which is produced by the burning of coal, oil or from nuclear reactor is made to pass through blades which spin at a very high speed to drive the generator which produces energy.

The principle on which it works is that the thermal energy which is extracted from the steam is converted into mechanical energy.

Although officially steam engines were put into use by the efforts of the English engineer Charles Algernon Parsons in 1884, it believed that he was not the first person who came up with the idea.

Rotating blade assembly of a steam turbine.
Rotating blade assembly of a steam turbine.

The concept of converting the energy produced by fast moving steam into work was first given in the first century by a Greek mathematician. However since there were not many resources at that time the concept was not given much of a thought.

In 1884 when the world was at the peak of the industrial revolution the advent of steam engine changed the world at a rapid speed. First it was used to run ships and various machinery then soon it was put into use for producing electricity.

For more than a century steam turbines were majorly used for production of electricity but later other types of turbines took over.

Because of the fact that they use up the fossil fuels which are now are being diminished they are not preferred today for the making of electricity for masses.

Rotor of a water turbine
Rotor of a water turbine
Offshore wind turbines in Belgium
Offshore wind turbines in Belgium

Water Turbine

Water turbines work on the same principle as the steam turbines but the difference is that they use water instead of steam. The water used by these turbines comes from lakes and rivers.

Dams which are built in these huge water bodies store the water at one end, at the other end they possess hydraulic turbines which possess a shaft bearing vertical blades and a generator which produces hydroelectric power which is in turn used as electricity.

Water turbines today are the major source of electricity all over the world. Nearly 70% of the world uses hydroelectric power to produce electricity. They are more preferable than the steam turbines as they do not waste up the fossil fuels.

The first water turbines were built in Niagara falls at the end of the 19th century but their use became massive at the mid of the 20th century with the fall of industries.

Wind Turbines

Wind turbines use up the moving wind to produce electricity.

These turbines might not be as popular as water and steam turbines but in many parts of the world like in Scotland and some parts of America this turbine is used to produce electricity.

Long egg beater- like shafts, possessing bow shaped blades, are placed high in the sky. These blades move with the moving wind to produce electricity.

Producing electricity from wind may sound a good option as wind is a resource which can never end; however this process has huge restrictions as wind is as reliable as water.

It can only be applicable in parts of the world where wind moves fast continuously.

A Gas Turbine
A Gas Turbine

Gas Turbine

Gas turbines use up high pressure gas to produce energy.

These turbines are not used for producing electricity but they are used to propel jet engines.

Gas turbines are the latest types of turbines. Their structure is advanced but the principle is same.


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    • profile image

      MAHAVEER MAITHANI 5 years ago


    • profile image

      Sukhvir sukhi 5 years ago

      It is good topic for me.because it given kind information regarding my project

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      hiraze 5 years ago

      there are many types of turbines,not complete but good effort.

    • profile image

      neel 5 years ago

      nice for my use

    • profile image

      Kaka 5 years ago

      Nice and simple explanation.

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      Ashagre 5 years ago

      I think all people like these kind of description.why? because is good explanation.

    • profile image

      Ravi 5 years ago


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      Ritu 6 years ago

      good description..................

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      harsh raj singh 6 years ago

      The information is to the topic,and provide great knowledge.

    • profile image

      suraj 6 years ago

      vry useful for me

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      jp 6 years ago

      nice photo

    • profile image

      Jitendra 6 years ago

      Its very useful to me ,hope u also..

    • profile image

      raj 6 years ago


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      prakhar pathak 6 years ago

      this data is verry nice and helpful.

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      kids1227 6 years ago

      this data is very helpful...

    • profile image

      srinivasulu 6 years ago


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      kevin 6 years ago

      this info is great for my science fair project. thanks a ton!

    • profile image

      yamuna 6 years ago

      good information

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      ambrish 6 years ago

      good data including thear

    • profile image

      SARAN 6 years ago


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      humaira kanwal 6 years ago

      nice info.

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      qasim javed ...pakistan.. kamalia 6 years ago

      interesting but not compltee overview

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Great post..nice

    • Megan Coxe profile image

      Megan Coxe 6 years ago from somewhere between here and there

      Very interesting stuff! It´s great to have accessible material on this topic at hand!

    • riyas.aboobacker profile image

      riyas.aboobacker 6 years ago from today : UK . ( tomorrow :no idiea )

      very informative

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      skymaster 6 years ago

      Very informative. Nice to learn other types of turbines than gas turbines :) ty