The 'Belle Isle' Turbine, the first gas turbine engine used for electrical generation in the United States, was designated a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) on November 8, 1984 during a ceremony in Schenectady, N.Y.
The engine was installed in 1949 by the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company, and was in service until 1980. It was removed by General Electric Co. for permanent installation at their Schenectady, New York plant in 1982.
ASME President George Kotnick presented George Cox, vice president of General Electric Company and manager, Turbine Business groups with a bronze plaque citing the technical highlights of the turbine.
Clearly, the generation of electric power is by far the most important application of the gas turbine in the United States,' Mr. Kotnick said. 'The Belle Isle engine represents the transformation of the early aircraft gas turbinein which the engines seldom ran more than ten hours at a stretchinto a long-life, reliable, electric utility prime mover,' he said. 'The low-cost, trouble-free service led to wide scale adoption of the gas turbine for electrical generation.'
Over 45 million kilowatts of gas turbine-produced generating capacity were installed during the ten-year period from 1966 to 1976.
Although research in varied gas turbine applications began in the 1930's, before 1949, the turbine was used primarily in aircraft.
During World War II aircraft turbine development for the Allied Forces increased, while other investigations were postponed. At the dose of the war the General Electric Company picked up where it had left off, and the result was the first gas turbine developed for commercial utility use.
The Belle Isle Turbine is the 73rd National Historic Mechanical to be recognized by the ASME. The ASME landmarks program designates regional, national and international landmarks, each representing a progressive step in the evolution of mechanical engineering. Each is judged by its influence on society and whether it is of significance in its immediate locale, in the country, or throughout the world. To date nearly 100 such landmarks have been designated in 28 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, England and France.
It is the 7th Landmark in the state of New York, and the second developed by the G.E. Company. Others included are the 5,000 kw Curtis Steam Turbine (1903), G.E., Schenectady; Corning Ribbon machine (1926), in Corning; New York City Subway (1904) and the Holland Tunnel (1927). For a copy of the brochure about the Belle Isle Turbine or photos, please contact ASME, Public Information Dept., 345 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017 or call 212-705-7740.