This Special Kite Can Generate Clean Electricity From the Wind

See how Roddy Read was able to build a different style of wind turbine that generates power using a specialized kite.

The future of energy

As society continues its march towards a cleaner future of energy production, several issues still remain at the forefront. The first is energy storage, as current battery technology is still far too heavy, and the second being that renewable sources tend to be bulky and non-portable. One alternative is to create a device that can be used in many different applications while generating enough stable power so that large amounts of storage is not necessary, and that is exactly what one engineer did.

An idea

Hackaday.io user Roddy Read had the idea to turn a kite into a generator, making it both lightweight and able to take advantage of wind energy. By constructing the device out of high-tensile strength materials, the kite could be easily folded and later unfurled without risking a potential tear. His ideal implementation involves attaching a long, circular kite to the ground next to electric cars and e-bikes so that they can be quickly charged back up.

Building the prototype

Mechanically, the generator is split into three primary components: a lift kite, which hoists the turbine downwind, the primary turbine that collects the wind passing through its structure and spins, and finally, a dynamo that generates electricity from the circular motion. Making the lift kite was fairly straightforward, but the turbine presented more of a challenge, as a spinning kite tends to just twist the line around itself. So in order to get rotary motion from the top of the kite all the way down to the ground, Read took advantage of tensile rotary power transmission (TRPT) that utilizes a series of rings and tethers that pull outwards and keep the assembly rigid.

At the lower end of the kite, the ground station's 500W repurposed e-bike motor receives the rotary force and begins to turn, thus generating power. The Arduino Mega 2560 is responsible for making small adjustments to the amount of tension being applied to the lines by using a strain gauge, and the windspeed is measured by an auxiliary anemometer connected to an Arduino Uno.

Potential uses

Even though the device itself is quite small and compact, it still has the capability to generate large amounts of power given sufficient wind conditions. The current prototype version can output up to 3kW, or enough to charge an electric vehicle via an inverter. In the future, the design can be scaled up even further to create over 10kW of power, all in a very light form factor. To read more about Read's project, you can check out its write-up.

Arduino “having11” Guy
20 year-old IoT and embedded systems enthusiast. Also produce content for Hackster.io and love working on projects and sharing knowledge.
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