Kite power for boats - boats powerd by kites

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by 4wings, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. groper
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    groper Senior Member

    over 60 institutions are now working on this technology... they know that whomever cracks it, will make heaps of $$$...

    I just hope, for the sake of yachties everywhere, that once they get it all sorted they offer this technology at a reasonable price and in the form of small stand alone modules that can be easily fitted to yachts. Imagine sailing, with auto pilot, and no standing rigging, and great wind efficiency. It will change the industry forever...
     
  2. Red Dwarf
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    Red Dwarf Senior Member

    I hope the companies don't end up in patent wars. Usually new tech has lots of players at the beginning and they slowly lose their businesses and you end up with a couple survivors. That means no support for the losers and mad customers. I am not trying to be negative but that is just reality.

    I really want this technology to hurry up and be available as I love the idea of using it on a catamaran motorsailer.
     
  3. groper
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    groper Senior Member

    Yeah you and about 500 million other people, me included! :D :D :D
     
  4. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    SkySails

    Your hopes are great, but reality has to seep in.

    Here is a company that has spent LOTS of money on full automation in both launching, retrieval, AND routing
    http://www.skysails.info/english/.

    And they are looking to sell to some customers who can afford the price to add it to their vessels if the tech is fully developed.
    ...and yet it is not fully implemented yet?

    So I don't imagine that any one party is going to make LOTS of dollars off of this tech selling to the yacht market. But I sure hope the desire to perfect it further continues to all of our benefit.
     
  5. Red Dwarf
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    Red Dwarf Senior Member

    I think a major hurdle for the manufacturers will be defining the market. It is pretty hard to bring a new technology out if you don't have a market.

    Most sail boat types don't want this system because it is too inefficient. Remember sailboat owners will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new rig in hope they can go a tenth of a knot faster and closer to windward. For god's sake these people still sit outside in the wind, cold and wet and claim they enjoy it. Pilots of airplanes stopped sticking their head out in the breeze very soon after the airplane was invented.

    On the other hand the power boat crowd in general hates all things sail. So you need to convince them that in the long run they will save fuel. But the majority of the power boats are greatly overpowered and they couldn't care less about saving fuel. They will reply with "if you hippies want to save fuel get a sailboat".

    The obvious market is the passagemaker expedition travel crowd. Many of us dream of doing this but how many actually get out and do it. That makes for a very small market.

    There are benefits to be had so I think it would be worth pursuing. There is the obvious fuel savings. This will appeal to the expedition crowd as most people that do passage making are not rich fat cats in overpowered powerboats and would rather not have to prove how manly they are by standing outside all night on a sailboat. Hence the motorsailer or trawler has great appeal.

    The second benefit which I am most interested in is the use of a kite as the backup propulsion source. Having to buy and build a complete conventional rig to use as get home power is wasteful and inefficient. Beebe states this in his book Voyaging Under Power. It seems the kite could be the perfect solution as it is mechanically simple and hence should not be too expensive.

    Right now Skysails is the only option I see and they cost a fortune. Hopefully another manufacturer can step in with the simple get home system I want.
     
  6. groper
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    groper Senior Member

    To clarify, the 60 institutions are working on automatic flight, launch and retrieve kite systems mostly in an effort towards wind farm implementation. it will be a spin off, that a similar system could be used on boats to pull them...
     
  7. whitepointer23

    whitepointer23 Previous Member

    have a look at sky sails video if you want to see what you are talking about.
     
  8. groper
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    groper Senior Member

    Mate, ive seen skysails... great stuff... just letting everyone know there are hundreds of other people working on the same type of technology... different application, but the technology is the same ie. automatic flight, launch and retrieve systems... it aint easy...
     
  9. whitepointer23

    whitepointer23 Previous Member

    fair enough. i am keen on the idea to. it would be great if someone comes up with a bolt on system that works when you want it.
     
  10. 4wings
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    4wings Junior Member

    Lot of thanks for the generous input on this thread - allow me to pick up a few lines of it and add my 5 cent's

    Personally I believe if you are only for the $$$ aspect on this technology - you might burn more than you recover ... except you have a powerful backer.
    Yes there are a lot of companies researching for one or the other application on this technology - but hold in mind most of them are working one ONE size of kite for One kind of application .... the boating application is as diverse as the rainbow and as such we increase the amount of variables in this technology by the sq.

    "Yeah you and about 500 million other people, me included! "

    Each of them has most likely another boat hull / deck setup and cruising ground ...?

    "Most sail boat types don't want this system because it is too inefficient."

    Most sailboat's ( Mono hull / Trimaran ) have a fore-stay / furling system which cuts your wind-window in half - once you tack - you would need to recover your kite and relaunch on the other side of the stay - allow me to disagree to the aspect of inefficient.

    Catamarans would have the possibility to launch from each hull and increase their open flight pattern majorly just do we have a sufficient hard structure to carry the load of the kite lines ...?

    "passage-maker expedition travel crowd" in a low powered power boat / trawler have the biggest benefit as they have a free foredeck.

    As wind-speed increase so does fuel consumption or in reverse decreases they can travel further with the same amount of fuel where a kite system would make the highest amount of sense if you travel in a course which would favor efficient kite propulsion - but as pointed out they are not the ones with the deep pocket.

    Now you loose your $$$ ...lol

    Let's try to break it down for a moment -

    Somewhere on the boat fore deck you need sufficient strength to carry the loads from the kite - where do you have it with a free horizon in front of you ?
    Normal 9 - 12 m kites can exert up to 500 lb of force if you go through the wind window - and now we increase the size of the kite to create the required HP we need to move our vessel ...

    Save recovery and retrieval ...as most of you looked at sky sail - did you take a closer look at the launch and retrieval system they install - I do not believe it is very appealing in most of the existing recreational hulls with a LoA from 30 - 60 feet - we choke already with the anchor locker weight ... personally I believe a train pantograph setup would make more sense than a telescoping mast ... but I do not want to go into this aspect at this point -

    Flight automation ...
    theoretically easy as there are only 4 lines - which get reduced to 3 at the deck - the 2 power lines which get reduced to one line which absorb the main force and set the angle of the airfoil shape and de-power the kite in case we have a gust - linear actuator with pressure sensor should feed the basic kite forces into the system - add input from the wind anemometer and we are set -
    The 2 steering lines which move the kite through the wind window - a repeat motion which can be set on a time basis - it takes x seconds for the kite to travel from its highest point to the lowest when it needs to turn and get up to its highest ...sounds easy?

    Unfortunately it is not - as the variables set in - how long is your kite line - 10 yard /20 yard / 30 yard 40/ yard - each distance sets a different time of travel for the kite = shorter or longer turn point.
    What is your wind speed and at which angle is your airfoil set - 2 sets of variables
    What is the size of your kite -
    What is the shape of your kite -
    All I want to point out is that we should adjust our optimism to the reality of our sport that a spin off from other existing technologies would serve us only in ONE setup - how many can we satisfy with this single setup?
    How about we start doing on our own instead of waiting for a per-configured plug and play setup which will not really serve us or we can't afford?

    Hope you all have a great weekend and some food for thought
     
  11. Red Dwarf
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    Red Dwarf Senior Member

    Thanks for the input you bring up many excellent points.

    This company has a very simple system that seems to work fine in the video. This is the level of simplicity I am looking for, no elaborate cranes or booms to launch the kite.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6pPYwmu32w&feature=related

    I have contacted them but get no reply.
     
  12. Ilan Voyager
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    Ilan Voyager Senior Member

    I've made parachute like kites and they are pretty nasty beasts as the lateral stability is close to zero and do stall very easily. Big traction but need of a constant control and disasters occur very fast... I didn't feel convinced as auxiliary power, and a lot of people, at least in France, thought about that 25-30 years ago, and abandoned because of the problems of stability for use on boats...except for small sport boards.

    But the omega sail has interesting features; the idea of a "conic" omega is pretty good as it's autostable and stays in the wind. That's the main advantage.
    Visibly an aerodynamician or a well informed person has worked on that when you see the angles of the sail's parts with the apparent wind, and the vertical asymmetry so the sail can't spin and goes always upside. Add the acceleration of the wind in the cone and the treatment of the vortexes; the omega sail never flaps on the videos.
    The system seems mature, and fairly simple. Works with at least 7 knots of apparent wind in the sail, and with true winds from 12 to 30 knots. That means if you have 12 knots of wind your max speed is 5 knots...otherwise the kite will fall down.

    Other video of the system http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D6WTAxpyJ5Y
    It's a motor boat which crossed the Atlantic in April 2012 with the omega sail as main "engine".

    And an internet site with fresh infos.
    http://www.omegasails.com/
    English and French. Mr Vincent Leblond, a Frenchie near Bordeaux, will answer only to the contact form. Visibly he doesn't want to be bothered by promeneurs (non serious people),
    Interesting prices; 380 Euros a 2.5m2 kit for a Kayak.
    about 9000 Euros the 90m2 kit.

    Do not forget that ouside EU you'll have a big shipping plus the customs...aie, that hurts.
     
  13. 4wings
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    4wings Junior Member

    Thanks for sharing this product and it definitely deserves a place in this thread for everyone who is looking for a simple and stable auxiliary power / emergency power for long range power cruiser.
    I would see it more as a windsock kind of approach then kite, which gives it the high stability but limits it's range in the wind window - as a results limits your course.

    I agree that if you want to fly your kite active - you need constant attention to it - but isn't that the reason why we want to fly it actively and not hang it passive in front of the boat as we want to harness wind power over the biggest possible course over ground - not just limited to a small section of the wind?

    I believe it is important to give each product it's place - cut the myth and point out the facts. Compare Hp achieved to Hp needed - as often you see a video of a overpowered boat pulled by a way too big of a traction kite. Just for the sake of good advertising ... which creates a wrong aspect of expectations and sometimes fatal disaster.

    If you attach to your Kayak a 9-M2 kite @ 20 knots of wind you call for disaster - if you attache to the same kayak a 3.5 m 4 line trainer kite you have great propulsion and as the kite is a factory made product - the price comes down rapidly ... yup as well as its quality in some instances.

    On a sail boat we have so many sails - serving us in the different wind / course conditions as well as we have the ability to reef some of them to fine tune - why shall ONE kite replace all of them - just not possible - if we look at the kite surfer - they have a whole set of kites to adjust to different wind conditions and provide similar power for their sport.

    I think we need to try the same approach here as well - different conditions require different size and shape of kite.

    As there are more than enough disaster clips on the net where people try quite successfully to harm themselves here a boring clip of a comparison of two kites in low wind conditions -
    http://vimeo.com/20719103 where the user admits that he needs still to fine tune the lines a bit to get the max....
     
  14. 4wings
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    4wings Junior Member

    As this thread shows - different persons have different thoughts about kite powered boats as different hulls would require different set up.
    Since this is a international platform where all kind of boat owner / designer pass by - please lets hold in mind that we all have a different hull in mind to attach the kite up to ...
    The intention of our kite-sailer was to design a hull which serves the kite ( as such my opinion may vary from yours and is based out of our experience ) - we did not want to use a existing hull and let the kite serve it - as the forces of the kite are as well lift as pull - please see image on page 1 of this thread for explanation.
    To get the best grip on a kite+ boat combination - we wanted to reduce the effects of the hull just to the counter balance the forces of the kite.
    The combination of lift and pull can help you in other aspects - you can park your kite above you and reduce its power just enough to hold it in the air - but no motion to the hull.
    You can as well balance the pulling force with the lifting force to create less heel on your hull - if you set the attachment point off center , balance the two forces to a certain extend.
    We realized that as you try to move a bigger mass ( than a kite board ) , kites need the power and steering lines set apart so you can fly back to your hull without collapsing your kite because the wind is coming side ways . But as you have more mass - you can pull your kite through a low wind condition as long as you are in motion. Downwind is not the best course - as you accelerate - your kite might loose counter-force and drop from the sky - but modern traction kites can easy be water-launched as the kite will drift quicker downwind than your hull.
    There are a lot of aspects which we would need to learn and understand to get the most out of a kite powered boat and if some of the readers here want to try before spending money - drop us a line @ michael@4wings.com since hands on experience might help more than this thread can do .
    If you want to start on your own than please start small with a 4 line trainer kite to get a grip on the kite / lines / bar as controlling instrument - than step up to a small kite - ( 6 - 9 M2 ) and attach it stationary to a dock or fixed object ( not your pick up truck please ) to learn to balance the forces and only thereafter attach it to your boat. You can use your trainer kite as well to power a small craft - kayak / canoe small power boat as trolling device .... to regain your investment and get a feel for the combination of kite and boat.
    Hold in mind the power ratio of Hp to square meter / square yard of kite so you do not overpower your boat and have safe fun ... once you are there - you can start to push the limits.
    Have all a great weekend
    Michael
    www.kite-sailer.com
     

  15. Ilan Voyager
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    Ilan Voyager Senior Member

    Yes it's a socket (sophisticated one...), the window is 45 degrees each side of downwind, not too bad. It's sure that it has not the power of a thick profiled kite and the inventor has not other claim about the Omega sail that for use on motor boats as auxiliary power close to downwind, and for some other terrestrial applications.
    A friend of mine living in France wrote me that the 2.5 m2 is selling pretty well for kayaks, and the trials for trawlers are rather successful.
    After all, a small motor boat with not enough autonomy has been able to cross the Atlantic in the trade winds using this sail. No reliability problems. That shows it's viable for its purpose.
    Other advantage the Omega system is very simple, easy to maintain and repair, uses common materials and does not need electronics.

    Thanks 4wings for your informations.
     
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