Control of Buoyant Air Turbines: Redesigning Extremum Seeking to Meet the Demands of Fast Plants


Buoyant air turbines harvest wind energy at high altitudes. They are controlled by tethers that force the system to fly in figure-eight shapes. This shape changes with wind speed, making adaptive control necessary. Extremum seeking makes a good candidate for adaptive control because of its ability to handle modeling uncertainties, but it can also lead to slow performance that cannot keep up with fast wind changes. In this talk, Michelle Denlinger will discuss how we can effectively use this traditionally slow strategy by reevaluating the structure of hierarchical controllers and by re-deriving the basic controller equations from a least-squares estimation perspective.


Denlinger is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Penn State. She received her B.S. and M.S. from the same department in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Her research interests include applied control with a focus on airborne wind energy, photovoltaics, and batteries.


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Media Contact: Annette Brown



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.

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