Dynamics, Doughnuts, Controls and Coffee

D2C2 is an informal series of discussions focusing on system dynamics and control, not a formal seminar series per se. Typically, a D2C2 discussion will consist of a 15-25 minute presentation followed by 35-45 minutes of open/interactive discussion.

The speaker at this session will be Michelle Kehs, Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, and the discussion topic will be "The Disconnect between Simulations and Experiments for a Buoyant Air Turbine".

Brief Abstract
Buoyant air turbines can harvest wind energy at high altitudes where winds are typically stronger and steadier, leading to higher power generation. They consist of a small horizontal-axis wind turbine inside a donut-shaped, helium-filled balloon. The balloon lifts the system to high altitudes, where the wind spins the small turbine’s blades to generate electricity. With these systems, there is an opportunity to further improve power production by flying in crosswind, figure-8 shapes. In simulations, I successfully showed an optimal controller capable of tracking the best figure-8 in changing wind conditions. In experiments, I discovered that there is a lot of unpredictability. During this D2C2, we will use buoyant air turbines as a motivating example. Discussion questions will include: How can you ease the transition from simulations to experiments? Should we build theory and experiments in parallel? Does moving from experiments to theory make more sense than the other way around?


Share this event:

facebook linked in twitter email

Media Contact: Chris Hennessey



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519