Thesis

Longitudinal static flight stability of an airborne wind turbine

The United States is highly dependent on fossil fuels as a primary source of energy. An interest in viable renewable sources of energy is on the rise given the cost and availability of petroleum based energy. A source of untapped renewable energy exists in the winds of the Polar and Subtropical jet streams. An airborne wind turbine with stable flight characteristics over a range of wind velocities is required to access these winds and transfer the energy to the ground for use. Three-dimensional (3-D) solid models were designed in the Solid Works CAD program. These solid models were imported into Ansys Workbench where two-dimensional (2-D) cross-section meshes of the flow field and model were generated. The 2-D cross-sections were analyzed in Ansys Fluent for aerodynamic performance with an emphasis on Coefficient of Lift (Cl), Coefficient of Drag (Cd), and Coefficient of Moment (Cm) values. Experimental values of Cl and Cd were used to validate Fluent simulation results. The baseline proof of concept airborne wind turbine resulted in partial longitudinal statically stable flight over the range of attack angles studied. Analysis of the wing design (V1) revealed that sufficient lift was not generated by the airborne wind turbine using the V1 wing design. In order for this technology to become a viable method of energy production further investigation of a rigid airfoil airborne wind turbine design should continue.

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