How Do Jet Engines Work?

Jet engines propel airplanes forward by sucking in air at the front of the turbine, compressing the air to raise its pressure, spraying the pressurized air with fuel and igniting it. The resulting explosion is forced out the nozzle in the back of the engine, producing considerable forward force.

A jet engine compressor consists of blades attached to a spinning shaft. This shaft spins at very high speed, squeezing the air in such a way that it becomes pressurized and raising the air's energy potential before it is sprayed into the combustion chamber. Upon reaching the combustion chamber through a nozzle, the air is mixed with fuel and ignited at temperatures that can reach up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the extreme temperature, jet engine combustion chambers are typically constructed out of ceramic materials specially designed to withstand ignition.

As the expanding, ignited mixture of fuel and high-pressure air leaves the combustion chamber, it is forced into the turbine. This causes the turbine blades to rotate, delivering power to the engine's fan and compressor. The jet engine fan needs energy to pull large quantities of air into the compressor. Generally, engine fans split incoming air currents into two directions. Some of the air is directed into the engine, and some of it bypasses the engine core where it produces thrust while quieting the engine.