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Lab-scale experimental characterization and dynamic scaling assessment for closed-loop crosswind flight of airborne wind energy systems

[+] Author and Article Information
Mitchell Cobb

Graduate Research Assistant, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of North, Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223
mcobb12@uncc.edu

Nihar Deodhar

Graduate Research Assistant, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of North, Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223
ndeodhar@uncc.edu

Christopher Vermillion

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of North, Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223
cvermill@uncc.edu

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4038650 History: Received May 06, 2017; Revised November 15, 2017

Abstract

This paper presents the experimental validation and dynamic similarity analysis for a lab-scale version of an airborne wind energy (AWE) system executing closed-loop motion control. Execution of crosswind flight patterns, achieved in this work through the asymmetric motion of three tethers, enables dramatic increases in energy generation compared with stationary operation. Achievement of crosswind flight in the lab-scale experimental framework described herein allows for rapid, inexpensive, and dynamically scalable characterization of new control algorithms without recourse to expensive full-scale prototyping. We first present the experimental setup, then derive dynamic scaling relationships necessary for the lab-scale behavior to match the full-scale behavior. We then validate dynamic equivalence of crosswind flight over a range of different scale models of the Altaeros Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT). This work is the first example of successful lab-scale control and measurement of crosswind motion for an airborne wind energy system across a range of flow speeds and system scales. The results demonstrate that crosswind flight can achieve significantly more power production than stationary operation, while also validating dynamic scaling laws under closed-loop control.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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