Origami Kite: A Smart Morphing Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES) for Enhanced Power Generation
T2019-186 A next-generation AWES with significantly enhanced energy production efficiency and mobility that integrates transformative approaches of new kite flight mechanisms with a deployable origami structural design, an intelligent launching system, and data-based optimal control algorithms
Among different airborne wind energy system (AWES) mechanisms, the Ground-Gen AWES, which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy on the ground, has attracted increasing attention from both research institutes and industry because of their low cost, less complicated construction compared to a conventional wind turbine, high mobility, and easy operation. To date, most research related to AWES has been focused on the kite's attitude control and trajectory optimization during the generation phase that usually consumes 60% of the production cycle time. However, the remaining 40% of the production cycle time is occupied by the recovery phase, which is not only time consuming but also requires a significant amount of energy to counteract the air resistance when pulling back the kite (i.e., rewinding the tether(s)). Furthermore, the successful launch of an AWES at a desired altitude and velocity is a nontrivial task subject to many practical restrictions. Therefore, novel approaches are required to meet current challenges in increasing the efficiency and mobility of AWES.
A team of researchers, led by Dr. Ruike Zhao, has developed a next-generation AWES with significantly enhanced energy production efficiency and mobility by integrating transformative approaches of new kite flight mechanisms with a deployable origami structural design, an intelligent launching system, and data-based optimal control algorithms. Preliminary experimental testing and aerodynamics modeling has demonstrated that this new AWES mechanism can successfully increase the efficiency of power generation of the kite by over 90% compared to conventional AWES. In one embodiment, the kite system may generate enough electric power to power up to 600 homes. The ultimate goal is to enable a smart morphing AWES with changeable shapes during power generation and recovery phases and autonomous launching systems, which eventually makes AWES a more reliable and mobile power generator in wide applications, such as power generation in remote areas, disaster, and power outage.
- Mobile Power Generation
- Wind Energy Generation
- Utilizes origami structural design to reduce energy use during recovery
- Easily deployed at the desired altitude
- 90% improvement over conventional AWES by reducing energy consumption during the recovery phase
The research focus of Professor Ruike Zhao’s lab is on the fundamental understanding and development of soft intelligent material systems. By utilizing analytical, numerical and experimental tools, they study the functional structural responses of the intelligent materials that are subject to external stimuli such as stress, temperature, chemical, electric or magnetic fields. Applications include soft actuators, soft robotics, flexible electronics, tissue engineering, biomedical engineering, decarbonize and sustainable energy.
The Zhao group has specialized expertise in finite element analysis, mechanics-guided material and structural design, and advanced manufacturing of functional soft composites. The objective of the research is to provide guidance to develop advanced materials and structures, aiming for the design of innovative functional devices and systems.