Makani Technology
1.0

Makani's airborne wind energy technology integrates advances in aerospace engineering, materials science, and autonomous controls.

1.1

Technology designed for large generating capacity

A suite of simulation tools have guided the design and development. Computational models of kite aerodynamics, structural loads, and the g-forces of flight have informed the design of the 26-meter carbon fiber wing and high-strength tether.

  • Model: M600
  • Year Designed: 2014
  • Wingspan: 26 m
  • Rated Power: 600 kW

M600 view from below

M600 view from below
A

8 rotors are spun by the wind in energy-generating crosswind flight. Each rotor drives a permanent magnet motor/generator that generates electricity onboard.

B

A tether sends medium voltage power to the kite’s hybrid motor/generators which drive rotors to launch the kite. During crosswind flight the tether transfers power generated onboard back to the grid.


M600 detailed view

M600 detailed view
C

Direct-drive generator units of high power density are supported by the 26m carbon fiber wing.

D

1200 VDC silicon carbide motor controllers handle high voltages efficiently with minimal mass.

1.2

System designed for autonomous flight

The kite’s flight path is controlled by onboard computers running custom flight controller software. Data from GPS and other sensors help the software steer the kite.

  • Model: M600
  • Year Designed: 2014
  • Wingspan: 26 m
  • Rated Power: 600 kW
System designed for autonomous flight
A

The 0.5-kilometer-long flexible tether constrains the kite in flight.

B

Asymmetrical bridle design facilitates continuous looping flight.

C

Triple redundant flight computers control the kite’s flight path. The inertial navigation system provides position, velocity, and attitude estimates to the controller.

D

Measurements from sensors including GPS, barometer, and magnetometer deliver real-time data to the controller. All systems work together to keep the kite on track.

1.3

How it works

The kite rests on a ground station.
A

When sited on land, the kite rests on a base station atop a concrete foundation. Offshore, the base station is bolted to a steel spar buoy. The mooring system comprises a single line and a gravity anchor.

Kite designed for multiple modes of flight
B

The kite positions itself downwind and climbs to an altitude dictated by the flight controller, with the hybrid motor/generators initially consuming a small amount of energy.

Kite designed for multiple modes of flight
C

The kite then transitions into crosswind: flying autonomously in a circular path optimized for maximum power generation by the flight controller.

Kite designed for multiple modes of flight
D

As the kite flies, wind spins the rotors. This drives onboard generators to produce electricity which is transferred down the tether and to the grid.

About the journey