Clean Power

Published on December 31st, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


NASA Takes a Look at the Jet Stream to Get 50 Times More Wind Power

December 31st, 2010 by  

NASA aerospace engineer Mark Moore is using a $100,000 federal grant to research what it will take to create a jet stream-based wind industry 30,000 feet above the ground.

The reason the US government is interested in developing the jet stream is that up there, winds blow consistently at 150 miles per hour, so futuristic satellite-based wind turbines or kite-type turbines such as those from Kitegen and Magenn flying at that altitude have the potential to generate 50 times the gigawatts that ground-based turbines can. So far, the early Magenn prototype flies at 1,000 feet.

“At 2,000 feet, there is two to three times the wind velocity compared to ground level,” Moore said. “The power goes up with the cube of that wind velocity, so it’s eight to 27 times the power production just by getting 2,000 feet up, and the wind velocity is more consistent.”

50 times greater energy density

Higher still: 30,000 feet is where this new resource will play out. If you can send turbines further up, to 30,000 feet, into the jet stream, “instead of 500 watts per meter for ground-based wind turbines, you’re talking about 20,000, 40,000 watts per square meter,” Moore said. “That’s very high energy density and potentially lower cost wind energy because of the 50-plus fold increase in energy density.”

Moore has undertaken the wind-power study to streamline the development of R&D and to reduce friction between competitors for airspace. As more kite-type wind turbines are moving from the pie-in-the sky idea to the deployment stage, one entity needs to develop a plan that makes it possible to coexist in the same airspace; only NASA has that kind of experience.

That means dealing with current Federal Aviation Administration regulations and with those that might be necessary to accommodate an airspace that includes manned aircraft, the unmanned aircraft in the future, plus wind-borne energy turbines. The jet stream is very useful to commercial airlines, because the much greater wind speeds greatly reduce their need for fuel.

One solution? Site future potential jet-stream-based wind farms in little-traveled areas of the jet stream over the ocean.

“Offshore deployment of these airborne systems probably makes the most sense in terms of both airspace and land use”, says Moore, “because there is little to no demand for low altitude flight over oceans 12 miles offshore.”

His research also involves some of the core capabilities of NASA in aeronautics, composite materials and air space management. So leaders in this area of the wind power industry, as well as other government agencies, including the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, have been working with NASA on the research.

“They welcome this study because they’ve never dealt with flying systems and NASA has,” Moore said. “You can’t come up with advanced concepts until you understand the requirements well, and frankly, I don’t think anybody understands the requirements well.”

As we catapult into a real clean energy future, the sky is the limit.

Image: Flikr user unknown_adventure
Susan Kraemer@Twitter

Related stories on kite-based wind turbines:
Astounding EROI of Kitegen Ready to Test
New Floating Wind Turbine Harvests Energy From On High

Source: NASA via Amy Dusto at Discovery News

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • Lee Kunkiw

    Jan. 10. 2011

    I am so happy to know NASA emailsite.

    I have been looking for Solid State Generator device.

    Please advice me if you could help me. Thank you.

  • Adrian Akau

    I suggest that land based wind farms at high altitudes might best be built near the top of tall mountains. The requirements would be that the mountain have a road to bring materials and construction equipment up and a transmission line to bring the power down.

  • John McMillan

    This all looks great in theory but on paper it just won’t work

  • Joseph Hiddink

    Nasa still owes me $50 million for the technology of the Flying Saucer, which was screwed up by incompetent Propulsion Engineers in Cleveland, Ohio. (They caused the big black-out of 2003 !).
    I will develop safely the system of tapping energy out of the aether like a Saucer does and what was probably used by Tesla for his Pierce Arrow Car in 1931.


    STEM video, STEM is a prototipe of a first Kitegen. The video show the plant with a kite on air.

  • Dr.A.Jagadeesh

    The idea looks exciting on paper? But at what cost? Lightning also produces enormous power. But when to expect lightning? Even OFF SHORE WIND FARMS are to catch up in Developing countries? Such research may be luxury for NASA but there are other forms which can bring energy at affordable price.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India

    • DonEMitchell

       Hello Dr. Jagadeesh, and J. Hiddink,

      I believe J.H. is referring to optimization of the asymmetric capacitor thrust effect by using his U. S. Patented ‘Capacitance Changer’.

      T. T. Brown’s duplication…

      J.H.’s Capacitance Changer is capable of generating 500 megavolt pulses, a voltage converted from a plasma capacitor –when it turns off.

  • A $100K ‘investment’ shows how low priority this research is. The entire idea is complete BS.

    1) A tether 10km long that is able to conduct MW’s worth of energy would weigh 100s of tons! 2) A MW range generator weighs 10s of tons. 3) To lift just 200 ton requires a craft the size of the Hindenberg (which was larger than the Titanic and 3.5 times longer than a 747).

    The Magenn Power proto-type, as filmed on the Discovery channel, conclusively prove these things simply don’t work!

    These guys propose hanging 100’s of tons of power generating and transmission hardware on a lighter than air vehicle blowing around on the end of a 10km long ground attached tether and subjecting it to the 150 mph jetstream?? LOL

    • Paul, the technology is not yet invented. All as yet uninvented technology is “complete BS” until it is invented.

      (But, for example, solar in space will use microwave power to transmit it to earth-based receivers. Possibly wind power can be sent by microwave)

      However it finally gets invented – the wind is up there. We need the power down here. We are nothing if not inventive. Yes, it is an outside chance.

      The $100K is not to devise an as-yet uninvented technology, but to handle finding the best site for sharing the airspace, so we narrow down where to site (and therefor, how to design) the technology, enabling some wind inventor to devise the technology. That part will take more than $100K.

    • Joseph Hiddink

      Not only is it BS, Nasa does not know, that the jet stream moves all over the place. It seems to be a Golden Handshake for some guy who would be out of work otherwise.

  • Terry

    Commercial wind energy is all about cost-of-energy. And the biggest driver in COE is the turbine cost. While there may be potentially 20 times the wind energy available at 30K ft, the small diameter rotor wind turbine operating at that altitude won’t be able to capture as large a percentage of that energy as a land based turbine. The airborne turbine will also cost about 10 times as much as a land based turbine per kW, it will be much more prone to damage and breakdown, it will require much more maintenance, and will have much more downtime.

    The economics don’t make sense.

  • Nice shot of the aerial spraying of beryllium and aluminum and God knows what else. Let’s get this straight this blog is supposed to be “Clean” Technica. Amateur Technica is more like it!
    Chemtrails = toxic water supply and food supply not to mention we breathe this shit!

  • Interesting photo of persistent jet contrails. Airplane contrails don’t usually hang up there and turn into clouds unless you do it on purpose. I wonder what they’re spraying?

  • Pingback: NASA Takes a Look at the Jet Stream to Get 50 Times More… – CleanTechnica | Aerospace Jobs, Aerospace Training()

  • Shaun B.

    I wonder if the researcher took into the account the fact that the air is about 1/3 as dense at 30,000 feet compared to sea level. The density of the air has a direct correlation to the energy density.

  • Pingback: NASA Takes a Look at the Jet Stream to Get 50 Times More Wind Power – CleanTechnica | Aerospace Jobs, Aerospace Training()

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