A three-year, US$300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will allow Worcester Polytechnic Institute associate professor of mechanical engineering David Olinger to conduct research on developing a new form of ocean energy.
“The research builds on Olinger’s prior research, funded by the NSF and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in which he developed a low-cost kite system that used wind to generate power. Olinger and a team of graduate students developed computational models that predict trajectories and power output for kites of different sizes and tethers of different lengths, which can be used to design kites capable of flying in stable, high-speed figure-eight patterns under changing weather conditions.
The same algorithms can be applied to the design of underwater kites, Olinger said, but “instead of moving air, you have moving water and the kites have rigid wings.”
Olinger will now evaluate possible designs for undersea kites and explore methods for tethering them to floating platforms similar to those used for oil and gas rigs.
WPI said the team will also examine the advantages and disadvantages of mounting turbine generators directly to the kites or placing the generators on the platforms. […]
Olinger’s kite system is similar to one already being developed by Swedish company Minesto, though a WPI representative said the two projects are not related.”<
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