10 Differences Between impulse and reaction turbine

What is Impulse Turbine?

Impulse turbine is a type of turbine that works based on the principle of impulse, converting the energy of flowing water, steam, or gas into mechanical energy. It uses the force of the fluid’s high velocity impacting the turbine blades, causing them to rotate.

Examples of Impulse Turbine

Some examples of impulse turbines include:

1. Pelton Wheel: Used for high head applications, such as in hydroelectric power plants.
2. Turgo Turbine: Utilized for medium head applications.
3. Tangential Flow Turbine: Used in applications where both low head and high flow rates are needed.

Uses of Impulse Turbine

Impulse turbines find their applications in various industries, such as:

1. Hydroelectric Power Plants: Harnessing the energy of flowing water to generate electricity.
2. Steam Turbines: Converting high-velocity steam into rotational energy to drive generators in power plants.
3. Gas Turbines: Utilizing the flow of hot gases to produce mechanical power.

What is Reaction Turbine?

Reaction turbine is another type of turbine that functions by reacting to the pressure exerted by a fluid, such as water or steam. Unlike impulse turbines, reaction turbines operate using the principle of both impulse and reaction forces.

Examples of Reaction Turbine

Some examples of reaction turbines include:

1. Francis Turbine: Widely used in hydroelectric power plants, especially with medium head and flow conditions.
2. Kaplan Turbine: Suitable for low head and high flow rate conditions, commonly employed in river and tidal power plants.
3. Propeller Turbine: Used in applications with low head and high flow rates, such as in irrigation systems and drainage pumping stations.

Uses of Reaction Turbine

Reaction turbines find their applications in various industries, including:

1. Hydroelectric Power Plants: Converting the energy of flowing water into mechanical energy to generate electricity.
2. Steam Power Plants: Transforming high-pressure steam into rotational energy.
3. Ship Propulsion: Propelling ships and submarines using the flow of water around the turbine blades.

Differences between Impulse and Reaction Turbine

Difference Area Impulse Turbine Reaction Turbine
Working Principle Operates solely on the principle of impulse. Functions based on both impulse and reaction forces.
Fluid Reaction The fluid impacts the blades and changes direction without any pressure change. The fluid reacts to the blades, causing a pressure change and continuous flow.
Blade Design Blades not shaped to alter fluid pressure. Blade shape designed to increase or decrease fluid pressure for better efficiency.
Operating Efficiency Impulse turbines generally have higher efficiencies. Reaction turbines offer higher efficiencies with changing head conditions.
Capability More suitable for high head and low flow conditions. Well-suited for medium to low head and high flow conditions.
Blade Velocity The fluid velocity remains constant throughout the turbine. The fluid velocity decreases along the turbine’s length.
Number of Stages Impulse turbines are single-stage turbines. Reaction turbines can be single or multistage turbines.
Rotational Speed Impulse turbines rotate at higher speeds. Reaction turbines rotate at lower speeds due to the pressure difference.
Control Mechanism Impulse turbines have simpler control mechanisms. Reaction turbines require complex control mechanisms.
Cost Impulse turbines are generally less expensive. Reaction turbines can be more expensive due to their design complexity.


In summary, impulse and reaction turbines differ in several aspects. Impulse turbines operate solely on the principle of impulse, while reaction turbines combine both impulse and reaction forces. The blade design, efficiency, operating capabilities, and cost vary between the two types of turbines. Selecting the appropriate turbine for a specific application depends on factors such as head conditions, flow rates, and desired operational efficiency.

People Also Ask

1. What is the difference between impulse and reaction turbines?
Impulse turbines work purely on the impulse force, while reaction turbines utilize both impulse and reaction forces. Additionally, impulse turbines are more suitable for high head conditions, while reaction turbines excel in medium to low head conditions.

2. Which is more efficient, impulse or reaction turbine?
Generally, impulse turbines have higher efficiency. However, reaction turbines offer better efficiencies when the head conditions change.

3. Can a turbine be both impulse and reaction?
No, a turbine cannot be both impulse and reaction at the same time. Turbines are designed based on either impulse or reaction principles.

4. Are impulse turbines cost-effective?
Impulse turbines tend to be less expensive due to their simpler design compared to reaction turbines.

5. What are some common applications of impulse turbines?
Impulse turbines are commonly used in hydroelectric power plants, steam turbines, and gas turbines for various industries requiring mechanical energy conversion.

Leave a Comment

content of this page is protected

Scroll to Top