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Video: Airborne Wind Turbine in flight


April 20, 2012

Altaeros Energies has been in touch to show Gizmag a video of its Airborne Wind Turbine in flight

Altaeros Energies has been in touch to show Gizmag a video of its Airborne Wind Turbine in flight

Remember the Airborne Wind Turbine covered by Gizmag towards the end of March? The creator of the prototype, Altaeros Energies, has been in touch to show us a video of the prototype in operation and we can confirm that a) it flies and b) the turbine goes round.

Though we wouldn't typically post an update with relatively scant new information, the combination of this product's uniqueness and the interest the original story garnered among Gizmag readers means we thought this was worth letting you know about.

Also, it's nice to have a video without unnecessarily distracting and incongruous music suddenly blasting out of your cans, but perhaps that's just me. Judge for yourself...

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

cost / MWhr?

Dan Alger

May be better to suspend your Turbine from beneath a dirigeable, at least then they can be dropped and raised without damage to the envelope (this design has bare blades inside one).

Also in crosswinds a dirigeable can easily turn into the wind, the current design looks stable only when it is turned into the wind direction, being only semi rigid I would not like to see what happens when it is buffeted from the side and the envelope meets the blades.

In short get a blade housing.


re; L1ma

It has fins that will keep it turned into the wind.

Given the blade clearance and the stiffness of the inflatable structure any additional blade housing should be unnecessary. However a rigid housing that provides for smoother airflow might be worth the cost.


why don't they use hydrogen? this way they could transport deflated from site to site and inflate onsite rather than what they showed in the video, not to mention the supply of helium is finite.

Denis Klanac

This design is really bad, complicated, and inefficient. They should have kept it as a typical balloon with the generator suspended underneath, and instead of a prop it should have had a large spiraling ribbon hanging on a double joint hanging from one end of the generator. Then it would not matter how, which, or when the wind is blowing because the the ribbon would always be flowing with the direction of the wind and away from the cable while the balloon would have no negative angles or unnecessary turbulence due to its shape.

AnOld BlackMarble

Re; Dennis Klanac

The supply of helium is effectively infinite because it is produced by radioactive decay and trapped in shales. We have far more than it is possible to ever use, but it is all wasted because there is no market. It is a normal byproduct of natural and shale gas production.


re; L1ma

The aerostat is tethered by a single cable and it has fins to keep it pointed into the wind. Between the stiffness of the inflated structure and the wide clearance the envelope will not meet the blades except in conditions that make the thing fall out of the sky the good option. The contour of the air channel could be improved. ...........................................................................................................................

re; Denis Klanac

Hydrogen leaks a lot faster than helium, and the supply of helium is not near as limited as you think.


Slowburn, don't forget that the Hindenburg flew across the Atlantic. I know it had an unfortunate end, which killed off hydrogen balloons( the fire was mostly caused by the aluminium paint) Hydrogen is a lighter element than Helium, but is a lot cheaper, and this device is unmanned, so safety is not so critical.


Articles as this and their presentation is why this site is so great. Obviously a favorite that stimulates the imagination.

thank you cwc


re; windykites1

Actually I agree that they should use hydrogen for lift. My posting on the previous article about this windmill was to question how much of the generated electricity it would take to keep it full of hydrogen.


I could suggest making the whole gas envelope as a pair of contra-rotating helical units. The axis would be the sole rigid component, and the location for the alternator. Tail fins at one end (spinning in unit) would ensure it faces into the air-stream.

Utilize dual LTA gasses with helium (more expensive) at the core, and the cheaper hydrogen as the blanket.


In the past, thousands of migratory birds,as well as birds of prey using stationary turbines as perches have been killed. Was there any consideration given, or tests done in this regard?

Steve Vallance

Outside of the turbine actually spinning, with something that large in the air tethered to the ground, it would be interesting to see what potential would develop with respect to ground, assuming the tether was electrically isolated from ground contact.

From Wikipedia:

The electrostatic field and the difference of potential of the earth field according to investigations, is in summer about 60 to 100 volts and in winter 300 to 500 volts per meter of difference in height, a simple calculation gives the result that when such a collector is arranged for example on the ground, and a second one is mounted vertically over it at a distance of 2000 meters and both are connected by a conducting cable, there is a difference in potential in summer of about 2,000,000 volts and in winter even of 6,000,000 volts and more.


David Mott

Re; David Mott

That is Tesla technology, free power from the Atmosphere itself. You would not believe how quickly airborne turbines would be scrapped if they start using it, every Jack would be launching their own home brew version.

Superb post, thank you !.


If it was really practical to harvest "free" energy from the atmosphere, we would have been doing it by now. The static electricity produced is essentially useless. Aerostats have been used for years as barrage balloons, antennas and other uses with no real success in harvesting energy.

As for floating wind turbines, the technology will eventually filter down to the consumer level. As a pilot, I would worry about hundreds of "home brew" wind turbines floating high above the countryside.

Bruce Williams

Re: Bruce Williams

Why I can't let this be, I can only wonder. At any rate, here are some numbers for you and anyone else that might be interested to ponder:

From: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/wea00/wea00239.htm snip A number of studies have been done using lightning detection networks located in some countries and using a couple of satellites that have optical detectors designed to recognize lightning flashes. The most recent data suggests that the long used statistic of around 100 flashes per second globally is close to being correct, of which 80% are in-cloud flashes and 20% are cloud-to-ground flashes.

This gives us approximately 20 flashes to the ground per second globally and therefore 1,728,000 flashes to the ground per day. This seems like a huge number, but it is necessary to maintain an electrical balance between the Earth's surface and the atmosphere. /snip

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning snip Lightning can occur with both positive and negative polarity. An average bolt of negative lightning carries an electric current of 30,000 amperes (30 kA), and transfers 15 coulombs of electric charge and 500 megajoules of energy. Large bolts of lightning can carry up to 120 kA and 350 coulombs. An average bolt of positive lightning carries an electric current of about 300 kA — about 10 times that of negative lightning.


The average peak power output of a single lightning stroke is about one trillion watts /snip

Static electricity, a potential, can be captured and stored in a leyden jar, a capacitor or a battery.

In short (pardon the pun), there is a tremendous unharvested potential between our charged earth and our usually oppositely charged atmosphere. I've read that during a thunderstorm, as large potentials develop and move across the sky, large opposite potentials also move under it -through the ground-. If lightning has leaders that come up from the ground to meet the charge coming down from the sky, then that means that the classic 'earth' or 'ground' or 'neutral' references usually used to denote 'no potential charge' are only relative states, not absolute. It's safe to say that these potentials exist to a lesser degree at all times even when there is no thunderstorm.

Nikola Tesla Day is July 10th!

David Mott
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