Kite Power for Namibia, Africa

EPA Grant Number: SU833520
Title: Kite Power for Namibia, Africa
Investigators: Olinger, David J.
Current Investigators: Olinger, David J. , Alex, Lauren N. , Baldiga, Jonathan D. , Baldwin, Gabriel Photeos , Bertoli, Peter Michael , Buckley, Ryan Patrick , Colschen, Christopher Michael , DeCuir, Michael George , DeStefano, Eric R. , Fekete, Luke , Gary, Scott C. , Hurgin, Max vonGal , Krisnaswamy, Deepa , LaLonde, Taylor A , Lovejoy, Erik J. , Partington, Wayne Robert , Phaneuf, Joseph B. , Sangermano, Michael Joseph , Simone, Nicholas William , Urko, Nicholas Stephen
Institution: Worcester Polytechnic Institute , Heifer International’s Overlook Farm Learning Center , Rohm and Haas Company
Current Institution: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2007 through August 31, 2010
Project Amount: $9,995
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Challenge Area: Energy

Two billion people in developing nations currently live in a perpetual blackout without access to electricity. Access to electric power would help these people prosper by alleviating the most basic inequities found in the developing world. To protect the planet, increased access to electricity in developing nations must be provided in a sustainable way by using renewable energy sources such as wind power. Wind turbines are usually used to extract energy from the wind. However, wind turbines have disadvantages for developing nations including high-cost, limited potential for use in low wind speed areas, and environmental drawbacks. The technical challenge that we seek to address is to develop a wind power concept that retains the advantages of wind power, but that is also low-cost, more friendly to the environment, and usable in regions with low wind speeds where wind turbines are not economical. Our solution to this challenge is the Wind Power from Kites concept. This concept converts the up and down motion of a tethered kite (or parafoil) to electrical energy using a power conversion mechanism and generator on the ground. Using kites instead of wind turbines has the potential to give more people in the developing world access to wind power since kites are economical in lower speed Class 2 wind regions, whereas wind turbines are not. The new concept also addresses the environmental problems of visual pollution, noise pollution, and bird kills associated with wind turbines. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will collaborate with Heifer International’s Overlook Farm to design, build, test, and implement a one-kilowatt Power from Kites demonstrator. The Overlook Farm Learning Center allows the public to gain new understanding of the causes of poverty in developing nations by providing working demonstrations of sustainable solutions through use of experiential, interactive activities. Two undergraduate student teams at WPI will develop, evaluate, and implement the demonstrator. The project maximizes the educational benefits of the P3 award program by extending the concepts of people, prosperity, and the planet beyond the university setting to the general public through collaboration with Overlook Farm.

Supplemental Keywords:

Engineering, sustainable development, innovative technology,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2008
  • 2009
  • Final Report