PhD defense Paul Thedens at TU Delft

After the successful defence of Dr. Thomas Haas last week at KU Leuven it is now time for AWESCO PhD researcher Paul Thedens to defend his dissertation An integrated aero-structural model for ram-air kite simulations: with application to airborne wind energy on Monday 25 April 2022, 9h30 (CET) at TU Delft with prof. dr. Gerard van Bussel as promotor and myself as co-promotor.

As part of his PhD project, Paul developed a computational framework for the coupled simulation of structural deformation and aerodynamics of ram-air kites used for airborne wind energy. In this framework, the structural deformation is determined with a finite element solver, mem4py, which also includes a wrinkling model to accurately describe the behaviour of the textile membrane. The aerodynamic loading is determined with Apame, an existing vortex panel method. Both solvers are coupled via the open-source coupling library preCICE. Paul is using this framework to study the aero-structural behaviour of large ram-air kites under aerodynamic loading. One aspect of particular interest is the structural optimisation of the textile wing ribs. Results are validated with measurement data provided by his employer SkySails Group.

The presentation and defence are a must-watch for any kite designer and can be followed via live stream.


Hi @rschmehl , do you think if PhD project could provide an answer to my question on


Hi @PierreB, this is clearly my field of interest and you can be sure that we will provide continuous results on this topic. But simply speaking now, the higher the flight speed the higher the aerodynamic loading and thus also the deformation of the kite. How this increased deformation affects the resultant aerodynamic force depends on the design of the kite. It is difficult to make a generic statement because there are many superimposing deformation effects. E.g. spanwise bending (anhedral & sweep), billowing/ballooning of wing sections,… Following Paul Thedens there will be Mikko Folkersma defending his PhD towards the summer. And we start a new PhD project on the topic :slightly_smiling_face:


Any possibility to reduce canopy collapse would save a lot of injuries and even lives of paraglider pilots.

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Hi all,

The PhD presentation, defence and laudatio were video recorded and can be viewed here:

Note that this is the same link as the live stream.