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Fast aeroelastic model of a leading-edge inflatable kite for the design phase of airborne wind energy systems

  • Cayón Domingo, Oriol (author)
Publication Date
Aug 17, 2022
TU Delft Repository
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When designing an airborne wind energy system, it is necessary to be able to estimate the traction force that the kite produces as a function of its flight trajectory. Being a flexible structure, the geometry of a soft kite depends on its aerodynamic loading and vice versa, which forms a complex fluid-structure interaction (FSI) problem.<br/>Currently, kite design is usually done on an experimental basis since no model meets the requirements of being both accurate and fast.<br/><br/>In this project, an FSI methodology is developed to study the steady-state aerodynamic performance of leading-edge inflatable (LEI) kites by coupling two fast and simple models. <br/><br/>On the structural part, the deformations are calculated with a particle system model, based on the assumption that the shape of the kite can be modelled using a wireframe wing model represented by the bridle line attachment points, whose coordinate changes are modelled using a bridle<br/>line system model and canopy billowing relations.<br/><br/>On the aerodynamic side, the load distribution is calculated with a 3D nonlinear vortex step method, coupled with 2D polars obtained with a correlation model derived from Reynolds averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) analysis, to account for viscous effects and flow separation. Furthermore, with the 2D correlation model it is possible to consider changes in the thickness and the camber of each section. Based on 2D thin airfoil theory, the three-quarter chord point is used to determine the magnitude of the forces, and the one-quarter chord point is used to determine the direction of these forces. <br/>Moreover, the model developed for LEI kites can consider canopy billowing and variations in kite and airfoil geometry while proving robust and inexpensive.<br/>This model has been validated with several geometries and a RANS analysis of the LEI kite, showing great accuracy for pre-stall angles of attack. <br/><br/>The coupling of these two models results in a fast aeroelastic model of LEI kites capable of predicting the steady-state deformations and aerodynamic forces on the kite for the range of actuation settings and inflow conditions expected during a normal pumping cycle. Furthermore, the results show that the deformations follow the same trends as the results from the photogrammetry analysis and that, by taking into account the deformations that the kite undergoes, the aerodynamic forces more closely resemble experimental data. / Aerospace Engineering

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