Marine Energy Program

Technology-Specific System Design and Validation

Project Name: Device Design and Robust Periodic Motion Control of an Ocean Kite System for Hydrokinetic Energy Harvesting                 

Project Team: North Carolina State University (lead), East Carolina University, Florida Atlantic University, and University of Maryland

Lead Recipient Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

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The ocean packs great speed and power—but not everywhere. Offshore work, such as marine research and undersea military missions, must go where missions dictate. However, these locations may not always be where the highest energy flows. That can be a problem for the budding marine energy industry. Now, a flying underwater kite—developed through a collaboration between North Carolina State University, East Carolina University, Florida Atlantic University, and the University of Maryland—could harness and store energy from even slow-moving currents. Built with far less material—and, therefore, at a lower cost—the kite flies underwater figure eights to generate substantially more energy per unit mass than some other marine energy designs.

The flying underwater kite was designed to deliver much-needed power even in relatively energy-poor environments. To validate performance, the research team first conducted trials at the North Carolina State University pool in spring 2021. These tests provided critical data on how to optimize the kite’s geometry and power system for enhanced energy production. In the fall, the team tested its endurance in the first of a series of two tests in North Carolina’s Lake Norman. During these tests, the team flew the kite for hours and miles at a time. These trials will help the researchers refine their design, so it could soon power even more than remote, offshore work. In the future, farms of near-shore kites could provide coastal and island communities with clean, reliable, renewable energy.

Technology-Specific System Design and Validation Projects