About the Gas Turbine Laboratory

The concept of an MIT Gas Turbine Laboratory was formulated not long after the first jet engines were successfully run. Shortly after the end of the Second World War, Professor J.C. Hunsaker, who was one of the pioneers of aviation in this country and who was a member of the original National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (the forerunner of NASA), brought together a group of American industries who donated funds for the construction of a laboratory devoted to jet propulsion. A plaque commemorating the 1947 dedication now hangs in the main laboratory. From that beginning, the GTL evolved into what we believe is a world-class institution for teaching and research in aeropropulsion and turbomachinery technology. The research carried out in the laboratory has changed with the interests of the participants, but we have always sought to carry out the type of work that leads, rather than follows, the state of the art.

The research at the GTL is focused on advanced propulsion systems and turbomachinery with activities in computational, theoretical, and experimental study of: (1) loss mechanisms and unsteady flows in turbomachines, (2) compression system stability and active control, (3) heat transfer in turbine blading, (4) gas turbine engine noise reduction and aero-acoustics, (5) pollutant emissions and community noise, and (6) MEMS-based high-power-density engines.

Examples of past research activities include the first implementation of a three-dimensional computation of the flow in a transonic compressor, and the concept of blowdown testing of transonic compressors and turbines (thereby enabling these machines to be used for university scale experiments). Current examples are the work on "smart engines", in particular active control of turbomachine instabilities; the research project on "micro engines" which involves extensive collaboration with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and the "Silent Aircraft Initiative" which is a collaborative project with Cambridge University, Boeing, Rolls Royce, and other industrial partners to dramatically reduce aircraft noise below the background noise level in a well-populated area.

The Gas Turbine Laboratory maintains strong ties with industry and government research in the areas of propulsion and turbomachinery technology, as well as with other academic institutions who are leaders in this field. For example, there are collaborative projects with the gas turbine engine manufacturers connecting the work in the GTL with "real world" problems, and there are longstanding collaborative efforts with Caltech and with the Whittle Laboratory at Cambridge University in England. From an educational perspective, the close links to the outside world enable the exchange of knowledge and ideas, and give the students an opportunity to present work directly to outside sponsors, to conferences, or to other individuals from academia, industry, or government.