CoolIP index Most recent edit: Wednesday October 24, 2012
* See legal note below.
COTS Tarps as Experimental AWES Wings
The modern poly tarp is incredibly cheap, as little as a dime per square foot for medium duty UV resistant versions with sewn rope borders and grommets every two feet or so. Value-priced kites run ten times higher by the square foot, mostly as a reflection of lower volume production by higher skilled workers. Quality rigid wings run almost one thousand times the cost of the common tarp, by area. This is why Dave Culp pondered if there was not some way to use tarps for kite energy; the "Village Blue Tarp" AWES concept.
Anyone who depends on tarps as canopies knows that the larger sizes become more vulnerable to blow-out. Strangely, tarp prices seem flat across their size ranges, for a given fabric weight, so one can buy a box of many smaller tarps at a comparable price to one larger tarp. The small tarp formats that sell as many as thirty to a box are very easy to individually manage and could potentially be aggregated by setting in a large rope network, a minimal surface with about 30% projected solidity. Furling of the networked kites could be as simple as pulling lines on window blinds. Cheap tarps do require early replacement, but the UV protection that allows a five-year warranty life promises a year or two in AWES service.
The 1500 ft or so of tarp to a 150 dollar box is enough lift in a medium breeze to lift about five hundred pounds at low wing-loading. One could lift an adapted 10-50 kW HAWT and hundreds of feet of conductor with this amount of wing. A "lift-ready" HAWT payload might look like an airboat rotor on a sleigh-runner. Such a freaky turbine can win by reaching far better wind than a HAWT tower can. One can also imagine lounging aloft under a tarp array like royalty on-the-cheap, the lowest-cost human aviation of all, persistent and renewable.
Cheap pioneering DIY sky-sailing methods are only workable by considerable rigging and piloting skills; they are the opposite of wishful AWES where one merely flips an On switch and walks away. Endless novel experiments in rigging are possible, and the end result may be highly refined purpose-built AWES wing arrays.
CoolIP* ~Dave Santos 26Jan2012 AWES5311
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