Alan H. Epstein and his work on tiny electric machines

Finding the most efficient energy supply for mobile devices is now one of the top research areas in the world. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT - USA) have researched and successfully developed small gas turbine engines on chips that can replace batteries for powering laptops, cell phones, radios and both home power generators with outstanding usage time compared to traditional energy supplies.

This can be considered a new breakthrough in the process of researching mobile power sources for the future. Talking about this achievement, it is impossible not to mention the character of the ' locomotive ' of the research project - Professor Alan H. Epstein, Director of the gas turbine laboratory, Head of the Department of Astronautics and Aeronautics of MIT.

Graduating from the University of Aeronautics and Aeronautics in 1971, Alan Epstein has continued to study and research to complete a Master's program a year later. In 1975, he received his Ph.D. and started working for MIT since 1980. Professor Alan Epstein specializes in the fields of electricity production and energy conversion, turbine engines and gas turbines, including small heat engines, heat transfer in turbines, research sciences. rescue innovative instruments, acoustic instruments, propulsion system .

Picture 1 of Alan H. Epstein and his work on tiny electric machines
Professor Alan Epstein and his colleagues have researched and developed
successful small gas turbine engine on chip (Photo:

After 10 years of pursuing the ' Engine on chip ' project, Professor Epstein's small gas turbine engine can now operate 10 times longer than the battery used for laptops, cell phones, radios and other electronic devices. According to him, this engine has a weight equivalent to a battery but after each charge, it can be used for about 15-20 hours.

The operating principle of this engine is similar to a jet engine . An air compressor draws air outside and compresses it. Fuel nozzle transfers fuel into compressed air and this mixture burns. Epstein's engine can work with a variety of fuels such as petroleum, propane, ethanol, methanol or hydrogene. The generated hot air will spread rapidly to rotate the turbine, rotating the coil inside the magnet to generate electricity. Typically, a jet engine has thousands of parts assembled into several parts including air compressors, combustion chambers and turbines. Meanwhile, Epstein's small gas turbine engine has only two components: a mobile rotating block and a fixed structure, capable of operating as an air compressor and combustion chamber. This engine can fit into a matchbox because its combustion chamber is just the size of a pencil eraser and fuel nozzles are small holes with a dot.

The main utility of this invention is thrust and electric conversion that saves costs, minimizes cumbersome and standardized. Professor Epstein's invention and his colleagues were published widely in the media in late September this year and he believes that this mini generator will be commercialized within 3 to 5 years.

Picture 2 of Alan H. Epstein and his work on tiny electric machines
One of the components of small gas turbine engine (Photo:

Professor Alan Epstein is currently a member of the Air Force Science and Technology Committee of the US Nuclear Management Commission (NRC), a member of the American Academy of Aeronautics and Space and the National Academy of Engineering. In addition to the outstanding journalism and presentation awards awarded by the International Gas Turbine Institute, Professor Alan Epstein is also honored to receive the Gas Turbine Prize of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers - ASME. He owns more than 70 press publications on his research areas. Alan Epstein is also a professor at the Institute of Astronautics and R. Colin MacLaurin.

After 30 years working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Alan Epstein has made significant contributions to improving the gas turbine research process. He is also a pioneer in exploring new directions on gas turbine engines that are flexibly controlled with smart engines.

In addition, the Director of MIT gas turbine laboratory is always willing to help students, create opportunities for them to learn and research on gas turbines with large scale and in actual conditions. Since 1997, Alan Epstein has been in-depth research on small gas turbines, which have been made using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to be used in pocket generators for military purpose. And the biggest challenge for this type of turbine researchers is to create designs that can meet functional requirements but remain loyal to small and feasible machine technology.


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