Durable Structural Reinforcements of Large-Scale Fabric Kites

Durable Structural Reinforcements of Large-Scale Fabric Kites

This project is about large flexible membrane kites for airborne wind energy generation. Harvesting between heights of 300 and 500 meters, these kites generally have a large surface-to-weight ratio and deform substantially during flight. The particular kite considered in this study is based on a ram air wing. The aerodynamic load distribution on this wing is transferred to the tether by means of bridle lines that attach to the lower part of the wing surface. To ensure reliable structural performance the wing has to be locally reinforced which reduces excessive deformations and a degradation in flight behavior and life time. The objective of the project is to develop an optimization strategy to reduce profile deformation using additional fabric attached to the rib. The layout follows the load path through the rib starting at the line attachment point towards the top side of the rib. To enable a more reliable prediction of deformation and flow a fluid-structure interaction (FSI) routine is added to the optimization and a qualitative comparison between the optimization results with and with FSI are given.

Paul Thedens
PhD Researcher

Interested in structural mechanics of flexible membrane wings.


(2019). Fluid-Structure Interaction of Inflatable Wing Section. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Coupled Problems in Science and Engineering.

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(2017). Ram-Air Kite Reinforcement Optimisation for Airborne Wind Energy Applications. Book of Abstracts of the International Airborne Wind Energy Conference (AWEC 2017).

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