Speaker: Vakhtang Putkaradze
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Department of Chemical Engineering
PIMS Site Director at the University of Alberta
Title: Dynamics and control of flexible solar towers
The use of solar chimneys for energy production has been suggested more than 100 years ago. Unfortunately, this technology has not been realized on a commercial scale, in large part due to the high cost of erecting tall towers using traditional methods of construction. Recent works have suggested a radical decrease in tower cost by using an inflatable self-supported tower consisting of stacked toroidal bladders. While the statics deflections of such towers under constant wind have been investigated before, the key for further development of this technology lies in the analysis of dynamics, which is the main point of this talk. Using Lagrangian reduction by symmetry, we develop a fully three dimensional theory of motion for such towers and study the tower’s stability and dynamics. Next, we derive a geometric theory of optimal control for the tower dynamics using variable pressure inside the bladders, and perform detailed analytical and numerical studies of the control in two dimensions. Finally, we report on the results of experiments demonstrating the remarkable stability of the tower in real-life conditions, showing good agreement with theoretical results. This work has been supported by NSERC and the University of Alberta.