PhD defense Mikko Folkersma

After the successful defences of AWESCO PhD fellows Thomas Haas and Paul Thedens earlier this year, it is now time for Mikko Folkersma to defend his dissertation Aeroelasticity of Membrane Kites for Airborne Wind Energy Applications on Wednesday 7 September 2022 at 9:30 CET at the Aula of TU Delft. Prof. dr. Gerard van Bussel is promotor, my colleague Dr. Axelle Viré and myself are co-promotors.

Abstract: Airborne wind energy systems use tethered wings to extract high-altitude wind energy with a minimal structure. A common concept is traction kites, which fly fast crosswind maneuvers. For commercial viability, the systems need to be more reliable and efficient. This thesis focuses on membrane kites and develops a steady-state aeroelastic model by coupling computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and shell finite element (FE) solvers. This thesis presents three computational studies with the model. The first two focus on the aerodynamics of a fixed leading edge inflatable tube kite airfoil and wing. The third study presents the aerodynamics of a flexible ram-air kite with several power configurations. The model converges satisfactorily, is computationally relatively inexpensive, and could be a valuable asset in evaluating membrane kite designs.

The presentation (9:30 CET) and defence (10:00 CET) are a must-watch for any kite designer and can be followed via live stream.

The dissertation can be downloaded from here.


If you missed Mikko’s PhD defence you may now watch it all online:

This consists of

  • a presentation of the PhD candidate to the audience,
  • one hour Q&A with the PhD committee,
  • awarding the PhD degree, and
  • laudatio by the co-promotor

In total 2.15 hours.


I watched with great curiosity, though this is not my speciality.

Looking at mem4py I do not see that the fabric direction is an input parameter. Would that not be necessary so each panel could be aligned with the webbing in the right direction?

I can not answer this but would recommend to look at the repository of mem4py:

The best would be to post this question as an issue there. This will help the developers to improve the code and the list of issues generally also serves as an FAQ for others.

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