Turbojets and turbofans are commonly used jet engines for aircraft. As the first type of jet engine to be developed, turbojets were used extensively in World War II fighter aircraft. On the other hand, while similar to turbojets, turbofans are a newer model of jet engine with bolstered efficiency due to their particular construction. Moreover, both types of engines are used in commercial and military aircraft ranging from small regional jets to large, wide-body jets. Together, they have transformed how aircraft fly, making long-range flight possible while opening up the skies to millions of passengers each year.
What Is a Turbojet?
A turbojet is an internal combustion gas turbine engine that uses a continuous stream of exhaust gasses to spin a turbine, and they come in two different types: centrifugal and axial. When in operation, air must first enter an inlet before it can reach the compressor. Upon reaching the compressor, air is compressed into a small space where it is subsequently combined with an air/fuel mixture to promote combustion within the combustion chamber. From here, combustion gasses are used to drive the turbine assembly, and some of the energy from rotating blades is then used to drive the compressor, allowing for self-sustaining operations.
Turbojets quickly became the standard for various aircraft following World War II. They are highly efficient and can generate tremendous thrust, making them ideal for long-distance travel. Additionally, turbojets are modeled after the Brayton cycle, that of which is used to predict the thermodynamic performance of a jet engine. Generally consisting of three primary stages, turbojets utilize the following:
1. Compression stage – This step involves compressing incoming air using alternating moving and stationary vanes.
2. Combustion stage – During the combustion stage, a fuel and air mixture is continuously added and burned to produce energy.
3. Turbine section - In this stage, the turbine section collects energy released during the combustion stage, and extracts it.
What Is a Turbofan?
A turbofan is a type of jet engine widely used in commercial airliners. While these engines are similar to turbojet engines, they incorporate a bigger fan at their inlet which helps to compress air before it enters the engine. As a result, turbofan engines are more efficient than turbojet engines, generate more thrust with less fuel, produce less noise, and have lower emissions. As a result, turbofan engines are the preferred choice for most commercial, military, and general aviation aircraft.
Like turbojets, turbofans also operate using the same three stages: compression, combustion, and turbine. Additionally, their large fan surface area increases the amount of intake airflow to the engine to bolster the burning of fuel. As a result, the efficiency of the turbofan can also be increased depending on whether it is a high bypass or low bypass model.
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