To main content

Centenary of the First Gas Turbine to Give Net Power Output: A Tribute to Ægidius Elling


The paper presents the work of the Norwegian engineer Ægidius Elling (ref. Figure 1), from his gas turbine patent in 1884 to the first gas turbine in the world producing net power in 1903. It traces the subsequent patents, until his final experiments in 1932. Focus is placed on an engineer with a clear vision of the potential of the gas turbine engine and the capability to realize his ideas, in spite of the lack of industrial financial support. In 1903, Elling noted in his diary that he thought he had built and operated the first gas turbine that could give net power delivery. The power delivery of this very first gas turbine was extracted as compressed air. The net power delivery was modest, only the equivalent of 11 hp. The reason for producing air was the accelerating use of pneumatic tools. Refinements to the gas turbine design soon followed, such as water injection for compressor cooling and recuperation of exhaust gas heat. In 1904, the power output of Elling’s gas turbine had increased to 44 hp. Elling also abandoned the production of compressed air in favor of electric power generation. In a patent from 1923, Elling described a multi-shaft engine with intercooling and reheat, with an independent power turbine. He improved this gas turbine in the period up to 1932, when the engine reached a power output of approximately 75 hp. In 1933, Elling wrote prophetically, “When I started to work on the gas turbine in 1882 it was for the sake of aeronautics and I firmly believe that aeronautics is still waiting for the gas turbine.” Unfortunately, Elling was never to take part in this development, although he pursued his work on the gas turbine until his death in 1949.
Copyright © 2004 by ASME


Academic chapter/article/Conference paper





  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • SINTEF Energy Research / Gassteknologi




The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)


ASME Turbo Expo 2004: Power for Land, Sea, and Air




83 - 86

View this publication at Cristin