Arguably the most important figure in the history of the jet engine, Sir Frank Whittle was the man behind its invention, and his life’s work was to make sure that the jet engine became a reality for Britain’s Air Forces in World War II. However, many people don’t know about his fascinating story, or even who he really was. Let’s take a look at his life as well as some surprising facts about him that you probably didn’t know!
The life and times of Frank Whittle
Frank Whittle was born in Coventry, England on June 14, 1907. His father was an engineer with a strong interest in mechanical things, and this is where Frank first developed his interest in technology. He completed his schooling at Repton School and then went to Cambridge University where he studied mechanical engineering for four years. After graduating from university he joined Armstrong-Siddeley Motors where he designed aircraft engines but later left to work for British Thomson-Houston (BTH) as a design engineer. BTH had just developed the jet engine and Whittle began working on it as well.
How do modern engines work?
In order to understand how a jet engine works, it is important to first know what a jet engine is. A jet engine is an air-breathing machine that does not depend on atmospheric oxygen for power. The two most common types of jet engines are turbojets and turbofans. Turbojet engines compress air and use it as fuel in combination with petroleum or another hydrocarbon-based fuel; this type of engine was used by many military aircraft in the 1940s and 1950s.
Why are some jets more efficient than others?
As jet engines have evolved over time, so has their design. The three main types of jet engine include turbojet, turbofan, and turboprop. While all three types have different designs that are suited for different purposes, they all do the same thing: provide thrust to propel an aircraft forward.
Turbojets are often used in fighter jets due to their excellent efficiency at high speeds. While their fuel efficiency isn’t as good as that of a turbofan engine (which is what you'll find on most commercial flights), they provide more thrust at higher speeds than either a turbofan or a turboprop engine can manage.
How do they control thrust?
Jet engines are a type of reaction engine that takes in air and combustible fuel and produces thrust by expelling a high-speed exhaust jet. Thrust is created when the hot gases from combustion create both pressure and suction as they exit from the engine. There are two types of jet engines, turbojet and turbofan. A turbojet engine has an exhaust nozzle with only one convergent section, whereas a turbofan has an exhaust nozzle with multiple convergent sections; this allows for greater thrust to be produced at slower speeds than would otherwise be possible. Turbofans also have an additional fan at their front which provides greater thrust for takeoff and flight at high speeds by providing high-speed air to power the turbine blades that drive it.
The future is cleaner and faster
In 1954, Frank Whittle patented a design for a jet engine. He had been working on his idea since 1930, and continued to refine it until he had an engine that worked. It was much more efficient than propeller engines. The first successful test flight with a jet-powered plane took place in 1937, and the first commercial flights happened in 1952.
Jet engines work by sucking in air at one end, heating it up to incredibly high temperatures using gas or kerosene, then blasting it out through a nozzle at the other end. This creates enormous amounts of thrust and is why jets are so fast: they get pushed forward by the powerful blast of air coming out their backside.
Published by Pooja Agarwal