- KiteNav proposes a new renewable solution in order to reduce the naval fuel consumption and to generate electricity on-board the vessels
- High-altitude winds are stronger, more constant and with better global coverage
This research was partly supported by funds of Regione Piemonte, Italy, under the Project “KiteNav: power kites for naval propulsion”.
- Politecnico di Torino (Dipartimento di Automatica e Informatica)
- Azimut–Benetti S.p.A.
- Modelway S.r.l.
During the last years, several studies have been devoted to develop technologies for high–altitude wind energy generation using controlled tethered airfoils.
The basic idea is to capture wind energy using airfoils (e.g. power kites used for surfing or sailing), linked to the ground by one or two cables, whose flight is suitably driven by an automatic control unit. Wind energy is collected at ground level by converting the mechanical power transferred by the kite lines into electrical power, using a suitable mechanism and electric generators. This class of power generators is able to exploit wind flows at higher altitudes (up to 1000 m) than the actual wind technology, where quite strong and constant wind can be found basically everywhere in the world.
Here, the focus is on the application of the concept of high–altitude wind power using controlled power kites to naval propulsion, instead of electricity generation. The use of tethered airfoils to tow a boat brings several advantages with respect to classical sails, due to the possibility for the airfoil to reach stronger winds blowing at higher altitudes and to fly fast in crosswind direction, thus generating surprisingly high force values. In this work, a small boat is considered (i.e. a 38–feet–long yacht), equipped with a small–scale high–altitude wind power generator. In the system configuration considered here, the kite is linked with two cables to the boat. This way, the kite can be controlled by differentially pulling the lines via actuators placed on the boat and avoiding the use of wireless actuators on the airfoil. Moreover, in the case of breaking of one cable, the presence of two lines makes possible to recover both the airfoil and the lines.