Tesla Patents Bladeless Turbine
Tesla's patents state that the device was intended for the use of fluids as motive agents, as distinguished from the application of the same for the propulsion or compression of fluids (though the device can be used for those purposes as well). As of 2006, the Tesla turbine has not seen widespread commercial use since its invention. The Tesla pump, however, has been commercially available since 1982 and is used to pump fluids that are abrasive, viscous, contain solids, shear sensitive or otherwise difficult to handle with other pumps. Tesla himself did not procure a large contract for production. The main drawback in his time, as mentioned, was the poor knowledge of materials characteristics and behaviors at high temperatures. The best metallurgy of the day could not prevent the turbine disks from moving and warping unacceptably during operation.
Today, many amateur experiments in the field have been conducted using Tesla turbines, including steam turbines (using steam produced from a burner, or even solar power) and turbos for automobiles. One proposed current application for the device is as a waste pump, in factories and mills where normal vane-type turbine pumps typically get blocked.
Applications of the Tesla turbine as a multiple-disk centrifugal blood pump have yielded promising results. Biomedical engineering research on such applications has been continued into the 21st century.