Closed-Loop-Flight-Based Combined Geometric and Structural Wing Design Optimization Framework for a Marine Hydrokinetic Energy Kite
2022 OCEANS HAMPTON ROADS.
A marine hydrokinetic (MHK) kite offers an economical solution to the challenges of size and investment costs posed by the existing class of energy converters used to harvest tidal and ocean current energy. MHK kite systems are complicated devices that harvest ocean current energy by flying a tethered kite perpendicular to the motion of the current flow. They possess strong coupling between closed-loop flight control, geometric design, and structural design and hence it is important to consider all three facets simultaneously while designing a MHK kite system. Our previous work addressed this problem of simultaneous optimization of plant and controller through a control-aware optimization framework that fuses a geometric optimization tool, a structural optimization tool, and a closed-loop flight efficiency map. While our previous work analyzed the effect of key wing geometric parameters (wingspan and aspect ratio) on the performance of MHK kite systems, the present work represents the next crucial step in the study of ocean energy-harvesting kite systems and expands the design space to include several other wing geometric parameters - airfoil design, wing taper, wing twist, and dihedral angle. The effect of these decision variables on the power-to-mass ratio is estimated through an optimization framework based on a sequential approach. First, using sensitivity analysis, the framework determines which design variables in the design space affect the peak mechanical power generated while flying a cross-current path. In the next step, the combined geometric and structural optimization tool derives optimal values of variables in the reduced design space that results in a minimum structural mass. The constraints in the optimization problem include a lower limit on the peak power and limits on the number and dimensions of I-beam spars and the thickness of the wing shell. With a wing structure that can sustain peak lifting loads equal to less than a fixed value, the rest of the design variables are optimized to achieve maximum time-averaged power using medium-fidelity closed-loop-flight-based simulations. The final results of the optimization framework include an optimized wing geometry and wing structure with a maximized power-to-mass ratio for an MHK kite.