"Tethered Wings for High-Altitude Windpower and Low Pressure-Head Hydropower"

Mario Gomes, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology

Traditional wind turbines are a well-established technology. Since the technology for conventional wind turbines is relatively mature, dramatic improvements are unlikely. However, recently developed airborne wind-energy systems have the potential to significantly reduce cost, improve efficiency, and increase the number of viable installation sites. There are many designs for airborne wind-energy systems but the one of more efficient designs use a tethered wing moving in a cross-wind manner. The dynamics and control of these systems can be complex. To gain insight into the design of these systems, we have developed several simplified dynamic models of these systems. We have applied our understanding of these systems to the design of a novel hydropower system which is capable of efficiently harvesting energy from low-pressure head water flows such as rivers or tides.

Dr. Gomes' research focuses on the application of rigid-body dynamics to energy systems with the goal of developing new renewable energy sources and exploiting natural dynamic behavior to conserve energy in existing systems. He has studied the dynamics of bipedal walking, long-armed ape-brachiation, and highly efficient (collisionless) walking robots. His current research interests are in areas of, dynamics and design of tethered airfoils (kites) for energy production, locomotion mechanics, and engineering education.

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