The commercially available Model 8 system is designed to generate 12 kW net cycle
power in 22 MPH wind. It requires an attentive operator to manually fly the airfoil
using simple joystick controls, but is semi-autonomous. An onboard computer controls
the power generation cycle by powering, depowering, and retracting the wing. One
of Windlift’s key corporate objectives is to integrate a fully-automated flight control
system to enable unattended operation. The Model 8 hardware is designed to allow
for autonomous flight through software updates.
How It Works:
· First, the 430 ft2 airfoil, or wing, is unstowed and attached to the tethers. To
launch it two people position the wing into the wind while a third person uses the
control interface to steer the wing into the air. Once aloft, the wing is raised
to its starting altitude at approximately 250 ft of tether. The entire launch process
takes less than 10 minutes.
· Once at altitude, the electronic controls automatically switch to generate mode
and the operator begins to fly figure eight patterns until the system measures the
tethers are fully extended at 500 ft creating a 250 ft power stroke.
· Then, the electronic controls automatically depower the wing and retract it to
the 250 ft starting position for another generating cycle. The cycle time can vary
but is approximately 1 minute in length.
The Model 8 unit is extremely durable. It is made to withstand temperatures extremes
of -25°F to 115°F and high variations in humidity.
*Vehicle requirements: 14,000 lb towing capacity (Ford F-350 or similar capabilities)