Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2018-56
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Research articles 13 Aug 2018

Research articles | 13 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Wind Energy Science (WES).

Automatic Measurement and Characterization of the Dynamic Properties of Tethered Membrane Wings

Jan Hummel1, Dietmar Göhlich1, and Roland Schmehl2 Jan Hummel et al.
  • 1Methods for Product Development and Mechatronics, Technische Universität Berlin, 10623 Berlin, Germany
  • 2Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology, 2629 HS Delft, Netherlands

Abstract. The performance of an airborne wind energy system crucially depends on the aerodynamic, structural dynamic and flight dynamic properties of the tethered wing. In the scope of this paper, flight dynamic properties are determined against reproducible steering inputs. Current design methods for highly flexible membrane wings have achieved a mature product level by combining iterative testing with empirical and intuitive variation of wing parameters. However, for significant further improvements, experimental data of high quality is indispensable. We have developed a tow test setup for reproducible measurement of the dynamic properties of different types of tethered membrane wings. The test procedure is based on repeatable automated maneuvers with the entire kite system under realistic conditions. By measuring line forces and line angles, we determine the aerodynamic coefficients and the lift-to-drag ratio as functions of the length ratio between power and steering lines. This non-dimensional parameter characterizes the angle-of-attack of the wing and is varied automatically by the control unit on the towed test bench. During each towing run, several test cycles are executed such that mean values can be determined and errors can be minimized. We can conclude from this study that an objective measurement of specific dynamic properties of highly flexible membrane wings is feasible. The presented tow test method is suitable for quantitatively assessing and comparing different wing designs. The method represents an essential milestone for the development and characterization of tethered membrane wings as well as for the validation and improvement of simulation models. On the basis of this work, more complex maneuvers and a full degree of automation can be implemented in subsequent work. It can also be used for aerodynamic parameter identification.

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We describe a tow test setup for reproducible measurement of aerodynamic, structural dynamic and flight dynamic properties of tethered membrane wings. The test procedure is based on repeatable automated maneuvers with the entire kite system under realistic conditions. The developed measurement method can be used to quantitatively compare different wing designs, to validate and improve simulation models, and to systematically improve kite designs.
We describe a tow test setup for reproducible measurement of aerodynamic, structural dynamic and...
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