A kyloon (both a kite and balloon): The spinning in the presence of wind generates an aerodynamic lift force, similar to what’s created by aircraft wings. The balloon rises, pulling this cable which rotates the drum coupled to the electric generator. So the electricity is produced right here.”
As a spin-off technology, engineers are developing propellers that could give such balloons drone capabilities, or act as small wind turbines to generate more power.
Renato Salles a systems engineer at Omnidea/FCT: “One can use this vehicle as an airborne platform carrying any sort of payload. An obvious choice would be thermal cameras for fire detection. As it can stay in the air almost indefinitely holding a camera, it could provide constant surveillance in any location.”
After reaching its top altitude, the balloon stops spinning. Because of that, pulling it back to earth consumes much less energy than what was produced.
This prototype generates on average 30 kW. The next goal is to stack multiple balloons together in a single airborne system to produce several times more power.