Picture of How to Make a Mini Compressed Air Turbine
In case you didn't know this yet, compressed air is pretty awesome.  With simple mechanical systems - pumps - energy can be stored and used for an infinite amount of applications.  What I like about compressed air is how simple and accessible it is.  Anyone with a bike pump can start moving air to greater pressures.  Soda-pop bottles can be turned into air tanks, and by looking a little online and on Instructables, you'll find people who've used compressed air to do everything from shooting water balloons to powering a bicycle.

In this Instructable, I will show how I made a miniature compressed air turbine.  

8/16/13: Thank you for the feature!
8/16/13:  I'm just shy of 9000 views in barely 12 hours!  Thanks everyone!
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Step 1: Video!

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yugeshs4 months ago


I really liked your video. Just curios how did you calculate the turbine blade size. because i am trying to build one for higher psi (1000psi). if possible can you send me the link to your calculations, if you did any or have one.


fozzy13 (author)  yugeshs4 months ago
I didn't actually do any calculations for the size of the turbine blades. I would guess that smaller blades would also be beneficial with a higher pressure turbine, to increase their stability. Thanks!
aminnich5 months ago

Hi, I am really into your air turbine, but I do have some questions. Like I understand the input of the turbine, but what about the output. Where does the air go?? Would not it just be building up pressure until it blew up? If you could email me that would be great.

fozzy13 (author)  aminnich5 months ago
In Step 5, there's an image that points out the exhaust housing piece. There are two holes in the center of the piece. One holds the axle, the other let's out the exhaust.
Do I glue the three rotors together
fozzy13 (author)  HenryValachovic8 months ago
I didn't, but if I could do it again I would have. I relied on the threads to hold things together, but at higher pressures mine actually spaced apart a little bit. I would recommend gluing them.
iceng fozzy137 months ago

Would you worry about un-even glue distribution unbalancing the rotor at high speed causing failure at the shaft bearings ?

fozzy13 (author)  iceng7 months ago

I wouldn't worry about that. This turbine doesn't even have bearings! What I would do most likely is put super glue in between the rotors at the center, and then push them together firmly, so that the excess super glue comes out the sides. The excess would be wiped off, leaving a thin, even layer of super glue between the two layers.

sorry, may i get more detail dimension about this design? i try design on scale to 50mmx50mm but when air move to blade, three blade don;t spin because friction with inside wall then i release one blade so the rest are 2 blade and it is spin, but it don;t work because too much losses air on exhaust hole... may i got your suggestion? and email so i can contact more detail on email with CAD program (inventor)... thx

try sanding down the rotor sides a little, just a thought

ajay8421 year ago
This really reminds me of a toy car I had a few years back, it ran off of air and had a piston that would expand and contract like a real motor but instead of gases moving it, it was compressed air. When the tires moved the piston to a certain point it would put some gas into the chamber and propel it forward. It was a really cool design. I sold it though for like 30 bucks and I regret that now because it went up a lot. It's vintage 1980's too.
Heres a link
fozzy13 (author)  ajay8421 year ago
I've had a few different toys that used small piston-based compressed air motors. If I had had more time when I worked as an Artist in Residence, I may have tried to 3D print one. Compressed air is so much fun.

Thanks for the comment!
ajensen191 year ago
Interesting, but I don't really get it. What applications does it have.
fozzy13 (author)  ajensen191 year ago
If you can think of any application where a small electric motor could be used, this could be used instead and run on air power! That said, it was made more for the sake of making one than for it to actually be put to work..
it works and sounds like a dentist drill , it is epic i must say
fozzy13 (author)  EVIL STICKMAN1 year ago
Thank you! I'm very happy with how it works and sounds : )
Pietenpol1 year ago
I have to ask...does it double as a bong?
fozzy13 (author)  Pietenpol1 year ago
Just because it has two holes does not mean it is also a bong. No. But I'm happy to answer the question.
steinie441 year ago
It looks to me that the Exhaust Hole is covered by the Turbine. Is there a space there?
fozzy13 (author)  steinie441 year ago
There is a space there. The rotor has a washer between it and each end of the housing.
Well Done Fozzy.
It's good to see people who actually make things, and get them working, rather than just talk about them.
I would imagine the speed is extremely high, maybe up to 30 or 40 thousand rpm.
Ceramic Bearings are good for up to 100,000rpm if you ever need them. But they are a bit expensive.
Keep up the good work.
fozzy13 (author)  stackerjack1 year ago
Thank you!

Judging by the sound, I definitely think the RPM's are up there which makes me pretty happy, but I haven't measured.

Thanks for the comment!
Thanks Fozzy.
Do be careful of those high RPMs. If the wheel were to disintegrate, it would fly apart at many hundreds of m.p.h.
You wouldn't see it happen, it would all be over in a split second, no time to blink.
So, please wear safety specs.
Remember, you're using your last set of eyes now.
Have you tried lubricating the shafts?
fozzy13 (author)  stackerjack1 year ago
I haven't tried lubricating the shaft. It's a loose fit, and not airtight, so I don't think it would help much, but I suppose it can't hurt..
Edgar1 year ago
Went to my Blog:
How WEAK can you make it? !! Because if you can make it to run off a solar panel and provide 1 psi or so, it can fill a huge need in my project! Last year I started a low pressure pneumatic grid project. It usually pumps water with the airlift pump process. The beauty of low pressure air and the airlift pump is that you have a central air compressor and the pumps are just tubes joined together. NO MOVING PARTS IN THE PUMPS! I currently run 9 pallet gardens with constant watering on my grid. And the project works really well. One weakness is that there are no decent low pressure air pumps available to run off dc from a solar panel. You can get low pressure air to run aquaponics, hydroponics, kinetic sculptures, mini water wheels on ponds, wash root vegetables or clothes, dry fruit, cool stuff as you dry it, and more and more! Mine runs off 3 psi air from an aquarium fish tank bubble pump BUT it actually only uses about 18 inches or about 3/4 psi. I have used it so far to cycle water for "pallet gardens" and vertical pallet planters. Some people in the windowfarms community have used my designs for this in Windowfarms across the world. I think I use 7 Watts to run everything.
fozzy13 (author)  gaiatechnician1 year ago
That sounds pretty awesome! Mine is able to run by blowing into it when the adapter is taken off. IT's a very small pressure but has not been measured.

Thanks for the comment!
Silly question....
You mentioned using 1/8" acrylic...without anything to compare it to in the images, it's hard to tell, but that looks like 1/4"....
fozzy13 (author)  MercuryCrest1 year ago
I promise you it is 1/8"! : )
MadEdd1 year ago
Nice project. When you need to use a lasercutter you can look for a FabLab. They will have a lasercutter and maybe a 3D-printer. And in a real FabLab you can use their stuff for free or you pay a small amount of money during their 'free hours'. I am a labmanager in a FabLab in the Netherlands, every thursday afternoon you can use this Lab for free!
fozzy13 (author)  MadEdd1 year ago
I seem to live in a maker's wasteland.. The closest FabLab or TechShop is at least an hour away from me, but I have been looking for places that can get me to more resources..
are laser cutters easily accessible to most people. Seems like many have access and ive never seen one in person.

INteresting item im just really curious why I've not see one yet
My first introduction to them was from the Milwaukee Makerspace and we now have 3 in our inventory.

I'd highly recommend looking for a makerspace in your area which may have one available to members. Additionally, there are many companies which will laser cut your designs for a price.

There are some affordable "hobbyist" models out there, but their price tends to be around $5-$6,000 starting.
Thanks I've looked them up and I live in a major city which is a good thing but they're on the opposite site of the city. I wonder if one could be made piece by piece. Control through an arduino or similar device, The laser Id guess would be the most costly. Hmmm Ill have to look this up.
fozzy13 (author)  shizumadrive1 year ago
I only had access to laser cutters while I was an Artist in Residence at Instructables, so I don't anymore unfortunately. There is an Instructable on how to make a small laser cutter if you search for it! And Instructables runs at least one contest every year where they give away a laser cutter as a prize. Also as mentioned, makerspaces and hackerspaces will have them sometimes. They're really awesome tools.
Mig Welder1 year ago
Did you use bearings of any kind? It seems like at such high RPMs, bearings would be a must.
fozzy13 (author)  Mig Welder1 year ago
No bearings for simplicity's sake. It performs very well at high RPM's even without them if you watched the video!

Thanks for the comment!
eyeguy61 year ago
Why didn't you just make a Tesla Turbine? It would have easier and maybe worked better.
Why don't you make a tesla turbine (they're easy to make) and post an instructable?
fozzy13 (author)  jpatarb1 year ago
Take a look at the reply I wrote above. You're not the only Instructables user thinking about Tesla turbines!
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