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Simulation of Tethered Underwater Kites Moving in Three Dimensions for Power Generation

[+] Author Affiliations
Amirmahdi Ghasemi, David J. Olinger

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

Gretar Tryggvason

Notre Dame University, Notre Dame, IN

Paper No. ES2017-3425, pp. V001T07A003; 11 pages
  • ASME 2017 11th International Conference on Energy Sustainability collocated with the ASME 2017 Power Conference Joint With ICOPE-17, the ASME 2017 15th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology, and the ASME 2017 Nuclear Forum
  • ASME 2017 11th International Conference on Energy Sustainability
  • Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, June 26–30, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division, Solar Energy Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5759-5
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


In this paper, a numerical simulation of tether undersea kites (TUSK) used for power generation is undertaken. The effect of varying key design parameters in these systems is studied. TUSK systems consist of a rigid-winged kite, or glider, moving in an ocean current. One proposed TUSK concept uses a tethered kite which is connected by a flexible tether to a support structure with a generator on a surface buoy. The numerical simulation models the flow field in a three-dimensional domain near the rigid undersea kite wing by solving the full Navier-Stokes equations. A moving computational domain method is used to reduce the computational run times. A second-order corrector-predictor method, along with Open Multi-Processing (OpenMP), is employed to solve the flow equations. In order to track the rigid kite, which is a rectangular planform wing with a NACA 0021 airfoil, an immersed boundary method is used. The tension force in the elastic tether is modeled by a simple Hooke’s law, and the effect of tether damping is added. PID control methods are used to adjust the kite pitch, roll and yaw angles during power (tether reel-out) and retraction (reel-in) phases to obtain the desired kite trajectories. During the reel-out phase the kite moves in successive cross-current motions in a figure-8 pattern, the tether length increases and power is generated. During reel-in the kite motion is along the tether, and kite hydrodynamic forces are reduced so that net positive power is produced. The effects of different key design parameters in TUSK systems, such as the ratio of tether to current velocity, and tether retraction velocity, are then further studied. System power output, kite trajectories, and vorticity flow fields for the kite are also determined.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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