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!

Step 1: Video!

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aclark492 months ago
Try adding it to the back wheel of a bike and you will have a air compressor so that you can power a LED light on the front or back
aclark49 aclark492 months ago
sorry wrong thought it was supposed to say air compressor for pumping up your tires... I am not awake enough to think lol
daniellong22 months ago

I would cover the sides with metal for added safety, it could explode at high pressure. I would also add some bearings, because the thing stops really quick, meaning that it has a lot of friction

fozzy13 (author)  daniellong22 months ago
Those are some very valid improvements to be made! Bearings for sure would add a lot of value. Thanks for the comment!
jrichards52 months ago


yugeshs9 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.


1000 PSI is alot, you need to be looking into blade design. I'm not sure if it can be safely done without better understanding.

I would also think it would need SERIOUS bearings to sustain the possible RPM.Ceramic or whatever turbos are using now(outta the loop on that stuff).Be careful,may invent a warp drive or open a worm hole!,lol.Good Luck!

fozzy13 (author)  yugeshs9 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!

Hi brilliant I don't know if you have a way of counting the RPM but if you made the contact face of the rotor concaved you should find a significant increase in RPM . If you don't mind me copying your design, I have a prop RPM meter which I will put a small propeller on your turbine (I have a laser cutter to copy it ) and I will measure the RPM with your design and then a concaved face to see if it does make a difference. then I will let you know.

All the best


fozzy13 (author)  ai.roboticsltd2 months ago
I would love to see you replicate my design! If you decide to, I'd love to see some pictures, or. RPM measurments if you're inclined. Since writing this, I finally have access to a laser cutter again, so perhaps that's reason enough for a mk. 2.
stackerjack2 years ago
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)  stackerjack2 years 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!

HI if you go to a RC plane shop there is a Gadget called the Field Master7 which can count the RPM with an in build Optical Tachometer all you would have to do is buy a small prop and you could measure the RPM all though with the prop it would be about 20% less than with out. But it cost me £20 or $26, but on Ebay you could buy it for far less, seems extreme but bloody good fun



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)  stackerjack2 years 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..
ajensen192 years ago
Interesting, but I don't really get it. What applications does it have.
fozzy13 (author)  ajensen192 years 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..
DIY-Guy fozzy132 months ago

This would be a very nice source of torque for engraving, and it's self cooling too. Unlike an electric motor, this weighs less and does not heat up. Stalling this motor would not hurt anything, again, unlike an electric motor.
Very good!

aminnich10 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. minnich317@gmail.com

fozzy13 (author)  aminnich10 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)  HenryValachovic1 year 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 fozzy131 year ago

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

fozzy13 (author)  iceng1 year 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!
it works and sounds like a dentist drill , it is epic i must say
fozzy13 (author)  EVIL STICKMAN2 years ago
Thank you! I'm very happy with how it works and sounds : )
Pietenpol2 years ago
I have to ask...does it double as a bong?
fozzy13 (author)  Pietenpol2 years ago
Just because it has two holes does not mean it is also a bong. No. But I'm happy to answer the question.
steinie442 years ago
It looks to me that the Exhaust Hole is covered by the Turbine. Is there a space there?
fozzy13 (author)  steinie442 years ago
There is a space there. The rotor has a washer between it and each end of the housing.
Edgar2 years 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)  gaiatechnician2 years 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)  MercuryCrest2 years ago
I promise you it is 1/8"! : )
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