Scientists have constructed new software for the analysis of airborne wind energy systems that harness electrical energy.
FREMONT, CA: Aiming to analyze energy generation systems based on the principles of kites and drones, a new application is devised for multiple purposes. The software was also used to study the behavior of these new systems while converting the kinetic energy from the wind into useful electrical energy.
Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES) are the latest offerings to the world of technology and wind energy harvesting. The expensive and massive tower along with the giant rotor of a conventional wind turbine is substituted by a light tether and an aircraft respectively. AWES use the tension force of the harness for the movement of an electrical generator when on the ground. Whereas, the flight generation mode, the electrical energy is harnessed by wind turbines onboard the aircraft and transmitted to the ground by a conductive tether. In both scenarios, AWES presents low installation and material costs, and operates at high altitude (over 500 meters) where the winds are much intense and less alternating. The system also presents a low visual impact, and its easier hardware transportation makes it suitable for energy generation in remote access areas.
AWES is a disruptive technology that will operate at high altitudes and produces electrical energy. The systems utilized in its mechanism combines popular disciplines from electrical engineering to aeronautics, such as the design of electric machines, aeroelasticity, and control — the original and unconventional disciplines in relation to drones and tether dynamics.
Within the set boundary, researchers have exhibited a novel flight simulator for AWES. This flight simulator can be applied in the behavioral study of AWES, especially to optimize its design and to find the trajectories that increase the generation of energy. The software is registered and can be downloaded without cost and used for research purposes by other groups.
Along with the simulator, the researchers have also built a testing station for AWES. Many kites are equipped with numerous instruments and critical information, such as the position and speed of the kite, attack, sideslip angles, and tether tensions have been recorded throughout its many flights. The experimental data was leveraged to validate different essential software tools, such as the designed simulator and an estimator of the different parameters characterizing the state of the kite in almost real-time monitoring. The preparation of the testing arena has required a significant investment of time, effort, and resources, but it has also increased the interest from a large number of the students. Besides research purposes, the project has enriched the teaching activities, as several of them have carried out undergraduate and master final projects on AWES quotes a researcher who directs the Flight Mechanics course in the Aerospace Engineering Degree.
The creation and research activities of new companies in the field of energy generation at high altitudes, over 500 meters, with the use of Kites and drones have developed copiously in the recent past due to the financial support from the European Commission and private companies such as Google, among others.