Innovating Interdisciplinary Airborne Wind Energy through Rigorous Wind Tunnel Testing and Collaborative Design

Research projects

  • Research area

    Push the Frontiers of Offshore Wind Technology

  • Institution

    Durham University

  • Research project

    Innovating Interdisciplinary Airborne Wind Energy through Rigorous Wind Tunnel Testing
    and Collaborative Design

  • Lead supervisor

    Professor Grant Ingram (Professor - Department of Engineering, Durham University, Durham University)

  • PhD Student

    Planned for 2024 Entry

  • Supervisory Team

    Dr Fatemeh Rekabi-Bana (Post Doctoral Research Associate - Department of Computer Science, Durham University)
    Dr Farshad Arvin (Dr Farshad Arvin - Department of Computer Science, Durham University)
    Dr Majid Bastankhah (Associate Professor, Department of Engineering, Durham University)

Project Description:

This Research Project is part of the Aura CDT’s Hybrid Offshore Wind Energy Solutions¬†Cluster.

The pursuit of clean and sustainable energy solutions has led to the exploration of innovative methods for harnessing wind energy. One such innovation is the development of Airborne Wind Turbines (AWTs), a cutting-edge alternative to the conventional horizontal axis three-bladed turbines. AWTs offer the promise of tapping into the abundant wind resources available at higher altitudes, where winds are stronger and more consistent [1]. In particular, AWTs offer important benefits when used on offshore floating platforms. AWTs can be deployed on floating platforms, which offer mobility and scalability advantages. These systems can be easily moved to different locations to capture the best wind conditions and can be deployed in deeper waters, opening up new offshore areas for wind energy generation.

AWTs employ a diverse array of technologies and designs, ranging from tethered gliders and kite-based systems to rotary wing configurations. This diversity has given rise to a landscape where multiple AWT technologies are vying for prominence, with no clear consensus on which approach is superior. Traditionally, the wind energy sector has been dominated by the well-established horizontal axis three-bladed turbine design. However, the limitations of these conventional turbines, including land-use constraints, intermittency issues, and the associated visual and environmental impacts, have prompted the exploration of alternative solutions. AWTs have emerged as a disruptive force, offering the potential to overcome many of these limitations and provide a pathway to more efficient, compact, and versatile wind energy generation.

One remarkable aspect of AWTs is their versatility in design and configuration. Unlike the standardised form of conventional turbines, AWT technologies encompass a spectrum of concepts, each with its unique advantages and challenges. Some AWT designs utilise tethered gliders that capture wind energy through a controlled flight path, while others employ kite-based systems that exploit the dynamic motion of a flying kite. Rotary wing configurations, resembling the familiar helicopter design, are also being explored as potential AWT solutions [1]. These diverse technologies offer varying degrees of scalability, adaptability to different wind regimes, and potential for higher altitudes, where wind resources are more abundant.

Crucially, the multiplicity of AWT designs has sparked a dynamic and interdisciplinary research landscape, attracting the attention of researchers, engineers, and innovators from a wide array of fields. This pursuit of diverse AWT technologies has led to exciting advancements, ranging from novel materials and aerodynamic concepts to intricate control and optimisation strategies. However, as AWT technologies continue to evolve, there remains a critical gap in our understanding: the lack of a definitive consensus on which technology is superior. This research proposal seeks to address this gap by embracing the diversity within AWT technologies. Through a structured approach encompassing design, testing, and optimisation, we aim to shed light on the performance, stability, and interactions of various AWT technologies. By advancing our comprehension of these cutting-edge solutions, we strive to provide insights that will inform future AWT development, enabling us to harness wind energy more efficiently, sustainably, and effectively in a rapidly changing energy landscape.

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