Tuesday, 11 Oct, 2011 Technology

Latest Invention: Wing 7 from Makani Power Produces More Power than Conventional Wind Turbines


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Wing represents an unstable source of energy. It is more stable high in the sky, but up there it is rather difficult to harness. A solution to this problem has been recently proposed by California's Makani Power.

The company developed a new flying wind turbine design called Wing 7, which, in fact represents a mix of UAV and wind turbine.

The autonomous flying vehicle takes off vertically from a ground station and with a wingspan of 26.2ft (8 meters) can reach an altitude of 1,000 feet (400 meters) where it can produce 20-kilowatt of power from a 20mph (35km/h) wind.

The Californian firm made its Wing 7 from carbon fiber, which makes it rather light, weighting only 58.4kg (128.7lbs).

It would be interesting to note that because of special tail and robots the UAV can fly both vertically and horizontally. After reaching the necessary altitude the vehicle becomes a complex kite.

Using onboard avionics Wing 7 flies horizontally in crosswind circles. The power produced by the rotors is then sent via the electrically-conductive tether to ground-based power storage. The vehicle's circular path was designed to resemble the tip of a wind turbine blade. It is able to sweep a larger section of the sky compared to a traditional wind tower.

Taking also into consideration the fact that less material is used and that Wing 7 requires lower distribution costs, it represents a rather efficient instrument for generating renewable energy.

The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) along with Larry Page, Sergey Brin and other private investors, funded the project and with their help Makani Power looks forward to creating a 1-megawat flying turbine, which will be called the Makani M1. Expected to appear in 2015, the new flying wind will be able to operate at a height of 1,800 ft (550m).

So far a number of test flights have been carried out. Below you can see one of them perfomed in July and involving Wing 7.

[via Makani Power]

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