A Vortex Step Method for Nonlinear Airfoil Polar Data as Implemented in KiteAeroDyn

Rick Damiani, Jason Jonkman, Jerome Sicard, Fabian Wendt

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


This paper summarizes the underlying theory in the recently developed KiteAeroDyn (KiteAD) module, which is part of KiteFAST (KiteFAST), a numerical simulation tool that is currently being developed at the NREL. KiteFAST is intended for the simulation of airborne wind energy systems (e.g., energy kites). KiteAD implements an innovative vortex step method for the calculation of aerodynamic loads on all of the lifting surfaces of the kite, which is capable of accounting for two-dimensional viscous effects through the use of nonlinear airfoil polars. Considering nonlinear airfoil polar data allows for the modeling of flap or other moving-surface deflections, as well as for the modelling of inflow conditions with larger angles angles of attack. From preliminary verification against other existing codes that can solve for lift distribution on lifting surfaces, the results of the newly implemented method proved to be numerically robust and computationally inexpensive, thus ideal for aeroelastic design and analysis applications.

Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2019
EventAIAA Scitech Forum, 2019 - San Diego, United States
Duration: 7 Jan 201911 Jan 2019


ConferenceAIAA Scitech Forum, 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5000-72777 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5000-74483


  • airfoils
  • FAST
  • modeling
  • simulation
  • wind energy


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