Bi-directional turbines convert oscillating axial fluid flow into uniform radial rotation and have proven effective in wave energy harvesting applications, like ocean wave generators. Two of the most widely studied designs for these scenarios are the Wells and axial turbines. This study characterizes the effectiveness of these turbines for use with a thermoacoustic generator; which is a relatively new technology that uses an induced temperature gradient to propagate acoustic waves within an enclosed, looped chamber. These generators are widely applied to refrigeration cycle systems; yet when paired with a bi-directional turbine, the resulting sound wave can be harnessed to generate electricity.
This paper begins with a discussion of the thermoacoustic application covering relevant issues for the turbine. Next, the Wells, axial, and a combined hybrid turbine are presented in thorough detail including governing design features that were explored. Fabrication of a test fixture and turbine prototypes and experimental results from a broad ranging study of the performance of the turbine designs is shown. Finally, conclusions from the obtained results are discussed.