Fiber Helps Energy-Generating Aerial Wind Turbine Lift Off

Kuraray America’s Vectran® fiber is used in a cable tether that suspends a new type of alternative energy device — a lighter-than-air tethered wind turbine that rotates about a a horizontal axis in response to wind, generating electrical energy.


Vectran is the core of a braided cable tether that is wrapped with copper to carry electrical currents. The tether is part of a connection system that hooks the generators on each side of the floating turbine 1,000 feet up in the air — where the winds blow steadily and reliably — to the ground below and transfers electricity that can be used immediately or stored in batteries. The fiber’s high strength and light weight made it ideal for this new rotating aircraft, according to the developers. The fiber can hold up to 20,000 lb.

Vectran fiber met the specific requirements sought by Atkins & Pearce (A&P), a producer of engineered textiles with an expertise in braids and fibers. “We were looking for a material that was strong but light enough for the helium balloon to lift,” said Jeramie Lawson, product development, A&P. “We also needed a material with low elongation, even when carrying a large tensile load, and not stretch. Plus, we were faced with the challenge of balancing the elongation of the Vectran fiber and copper,” continued Lawson. “We knew from our experiences that it would work because of its high strength, low weight, abrasion resistance when other yarns move against it, as well as its temperature and chemical stability.”

Aluminum end fittings were designed by Applied Fiber to properly connect the Vectran cable segments to the wind turbine.

Vectran’s high strength combined with the Applied Fiber terminations allowed a secure, lightweight connection from the cable to the blimp. If the fibers stretch, the conductors within the cables can break. Vectran is a zero creep fiber that lends itself well to a balloon tether and this application.  

Kuraray America, Inc.’s Vectran Division

::Design World::

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