TX AWE encampment update
- We were sad to see Paolo, president of WOW, leave Austin on Friday after a busy and exciting week at the Texas AWE Encampment.
I have been slow to post updates to this forum so the list of projects under way is a little but overwhelming.
Let me start with personalities and meetings. KiteLab Austin's John Borsheim (test engineer) set us on the path to a new kite motor whose heart is a grid tie inverter (GTI). This allows us to farm in a range of diverse DC inputs to the grid. Whether an alternator or a 3 phase permanent magnet motor, the GTI smooths out the power and syncs it to the grid. We found a vintage utility meter on EBay to monitor this activity. The whole package is being built into a plywood suitcase to allow easy transportation to future AWE encampments around the globe...
Next we visited Sandeep Kumar at the Austin Tech Ranch to discuss our strategy of a basket investment. This is the core of the 100 million dollar research and development plan:
1. AWE R&D teams submit proposals to an:
2. advisory board* which determines fund allocation based on merit as confirmed by:
3. third party validation by a test engineering firm (Fraunhofer)
*Advisory board is made up of experts within and outside the field of AWE including government, academia, and industry.
The plan puts science first with an eye towards future commercialization.
Util's Patrice Mallard hosted a screening of the documentary, AWE, at the Austin Film Society. This cut featured much of the new material from our East Coast tour as well as the interview with Bio-Ethics professor, Sahotra Sarkar of the University of Texas. In attendance was the director of the Zilker Kite Festival, Jeff Kehoe; Angel Investor Steve Smaha (of Kpower); and Jennifer Dillon of WOWE (Women of Wind Energy), among others..
Out at the Hay Farm, Paolo tested first hand the Kite Power Take Off (Kite PTO). This is basically a splice of string and pulleys into the control lines of a parafoil. The KPTO allows the kite to be flown manually by the kite master in the classic figure of eight pattern. Separately, the power is tapped from the middle of the lines using a whipple-tree (photo to come )which goes to the ground to a spring return. As the kite goes back and forth in the sky, the KPTO goes in and out of (in this case, a retracting dog leash as simple COTS test product).
MOTHRA development also continues. We are simplifying the arch considerably: basically taking a stock rectangular tarp and flying it as an arch with the help of a triangular nose for control. The first such square mothra is only about 300 sq ft. We are also making one at 1000 sq ft and have been eyeing tarps as large as soccer fields. As those who understand Mothra know, it is all about controlled lift. The power we have been demonstrating is in the lift. And we will be lifting stuff in short order. Flip wings, looping parafoils, kite turbines, even a hammock - we have all these things ready to lift in the days to come...
The anchor field at Taylor Taylor's hay farm is still in play and will host Mothra3's rise as it did the original. We are also designing and building a high speed zip line across the anchors. At first we will use a high speed trolley pulled back and forth by a passively controlled kite held aloft by Mothra3 to demonstrate the concept. From there we plan to add generators at the end and drive the steel wire at high speed in much the same way.
NASA Power Wings : We are training with these amazing single skin wings sewn in Eastern EU. They pull like trucks and are beautiful in the sky. My 3 yr old son tried out the 1 M wing and displayed amazing patience and excitement (if not control..) The 7 meter wing will pull our little racing dingy that we are modifying for kite sailing. Actually, the modifications are modest: leave the tower (i mean mast) at home and use existing hard points on the boat to anchor the kite. We have become friendly with the owners of Austin's Sailboat Shop from whom we are buying Harkin blocks at a discount. They have also sold us a little UHMWPE line for special applications like soft shackles.
Soft Shackles, also known as Shukls, U'ties, and Soft Links, are a product under development by Util LLC. As basic as a carabiner for joining ropes or whatever; but much lighter, cheaper, and quieter.
We have identified a half dozen basic configurations and a zillion uses... We are using all the different types of rope and string: the fancy stuff like UHMWPE, the cool stuff with reflective stripes, and the cheap yellow stuff that floats in water. These basic building blocks are very useful and easy to make - very exciting...
AWEfest continues its preparations for a kite powered festival to take place in NYC in the spring of 2014. Kitelab Austin is building a prototype sound system for early demonstrations here in Austin.
Paolo also met Jayant Shirohi briefly in the halls of the UT AreoSpace Engineering Department. Professor Shirohi is a rotor expert and has been casually consulting with Kitelab for the past 3-4 years. We also took Paolo to meet Michael Lin, owner of Austin based New Tech Kites. Michael loves Mothra and will be an important partner as we grow our operations and have products to sell.
Let me summarize the work we have been doing by offering this simple formulation: By separating anchors from control from power from lift we are breaking down the component parts of an AWES in order to master each individually and build up a completely new paradigm of wind powered technology.
Well, after Paolo left I slept for a day and half... A lot has happened here since SnapScan, aka Cristof, kicked off the Encampment almost a month and a half ago. A lot will continue to happen before mother nature scorches the Texas Earth and sends us scrambling for northern latitudes...
Photos, videos, and comments to follow, as well as an important announcement ...