P15462: Airborne Wind Energy Plane


Project Summary Project Information

For an updated project description, click on the following link for the Project Readiness Package.

The goal of this project is design, build, and test a powered/controlled glider specifically for use as an airborne wind energy system. These systems are currently in development by several companies all over the world. However, each company has a different design and nobody knows the “best” way to design these systems. These airborne wind energy systems have the ability to harness winds at higher altitudes than conventional wind turbines and use less material to do so. Thus these new systems can produce electric energy at a fraction of the cost of conventional wind turbines, and can be located in places currently classified as “poor” wind sites. The system you will be creating will look very similar to the system in development by Ampyx Power shown in Figure 1.

There are two main methods for transmitting the power generated at the kite or glider to the ground. One method uses small turbines mounted on the kite itself to generate electric power onboard the kite (see Figure 3b). Then this electric power is transmitted to the ground using an electrically conductive tether. A second method transmits power mechanically to the ground through the tether (see Figure 3A). Mechanical transmission of power is done using a “pumping” motion the kite or glider. The pumping motion consists of two phases, a power phase where line is let off the drum when the tether tension is high, and a retraction phase where line is taken up by the drum when the tether tension is low. Although some power is required during the retraction phase is has been shown that this can be less than the amount of power generated during the power phase.

The main goal of this project is to recreate, at a small-scale, a human controlled, tethered glider system. Eventually we would like to use this as a testbed for design changes to a pumping energy production system. However, as a first step, we need a plane that can achieve sustained, tethered, circular flight and be robust enough to survive the learning process to achieve that flight.

public/Tether Diagram.jpg
public/Windmill Diagram.jpg
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Project Name
Electric Generating Tethered Glider
Project Number
Project Family
Start Term
Fall 2014
End Term
Spring 2015
Faculty Guide
Ed Hanzlik, echeee@rit.edu


Primary Customer
Mario Gomes, mwgeme@rit.edu


Team Members

Team 15462

Team 15462

Member Role Contact
Matt Kennedy Team Leader/Controls Engineer mlk1058@rit.edu
Matthew Zebert Team Leader / Design Engineer mtz4859@rit.edu
Devin Bunce Structures Engineer dtb4955@rit.edu
Matt Maginn Aerospace/Software Engineer mcm1569@rit.edu
Carl Stahoviak Aerospace/Simulation Engineer ccs3025@rit.edu

Table of Contents


Photo Gallery

Planning & Execution

Gate Reviews

Problem Definition

Systems Design

Detailed Design

Build, Test, Document

Publications & Presentations


Mario Gomes and the Energy & Motion Lab

Planning & Execution | Problem Definition | Systems Design | Detailed Design | Build, Test, Document | Publications & Presentations | Photo Gallery