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Developing a Rotor Model of a Novel Lighter-Than-Air System of a Wind Power Turbine

Lighter-Than-Air Wind Power Turbine

At a glance

  • Project leader : Dr. Yasser Safa
  • Project budget : CHF 96'000
  • Project status : completed
  • Funding partner : Federal government (Swiss Federal Office of Energy)
  • Project partner : Zarawind
  • Contact person : Yasser Safa


The technology of Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) aims to develop new systems that operate to harvest strong wind power at several hundred meters above ground level.

At that altitude, wind currents are stronger and much more stable than those close to  ground level.

For the installation of the wind power system at that altitude, the use of a buoyant gas aerostat allows the user to carry an electrical generator which hovers in the sky with a cable-tether connection to the earth.

Since 2012,  several development steps have been achieved  on a new model of a lighter-than-air wind power turbine  (Patent Pending). A novel rotor has been introduced to provide power generation with high performance and reduced weight-to-swept-area ratio. Several tests on the proof-of-concept have been conducted to date with both on-ground and in-sky open-field trials. Currently, further research efforts supported by SFOE, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, are aimed at the further development of this novel lighter-than-air wind power turbine.

In the present project, a small-scale model combining numerical simulations, material tests, and wind tunnel experiments is applied to develop a new rotor and to demonstrate its efficiency. Investigations of the geometrical influences on the rotor performance are aimed at a new design and arrangement of the blades for improved power generation.

Financially supported by SFOE (BFE), three institutes from our school of engineering are contributing to this project. They are providing expertise in: mechanical designs and computational simulations at ICP (Institute of Computational Physics), aerodynamic testing in wind tunnels at ZAV (Center of Aviation,, and light-weight polymer materials development and testing at IMPE (Institute of Material Process and Engineering,