Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable sources of energy with wind farms spreading across the globe. The wind turbines today do a pretty good job in generating energy. But in the past few years, the main focus has been on inventing devices that can go much higher in the air. At about 2000 feet up in the air, winds move faster, and thus it would be possible to harness more energy.
It is predicted that airborne equipment can generate up to 27 times the amount of energy of the current turbines.
Ideas that range from tethered kites to inflatable turbines have been developed and with all these talks happening, it was only a matter of time before NASA got involved.
There are two main problems that have to be dealt with the air borne devices. One is that there most of the already developed devices don’t have good aerodynamics due to tight deadlines set by their investors.
Another problem is that these companies have produced autonomous systems that can ‘fly’ themselves at great heights in far off places like offshore. For this they’ve used expensive on board electronic equipments and flight control systems that are similar to commercial aircraft.
That’s when NASA’s help comes in. To develop a system with better aerodynamics and that is capable of autonomous flight through simpler and cheaper means.
The prototype developed by NASA has a wingspan of 10 feet, and could have wingspans equal to Boeing 747s. The prototype has been tested only at lower altitudes, but they are working to test the technology at 2000 feet over restricted airspace in Wallops Island, Virginia.
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