Zéphyr, the kite with energy in its sails

Zéphyr, a project led by three French students, has resolved the challenge of supplying essential energy to regions affected by natural or human disasters. The device is a cross between a kite and a balloon, and is fitted with a 15 m2 sail covered in a light photovoltaic material, which is capable of transporting energy to a converter on the ground. At night, batteries take over the power supply. The project aims to provide electricity for around 50 people. Each kite can deliver light and heating to refugee camps, power a field hospital, or even put an emergency communication network in place in a camp. This makes bulky, dangerous and noisy generators a thing of the past, and also removes the need for a fuel supply.Each kite can supply a field hospital or even put an emergency communication network in place in a camp.Up and running within hours These kites are box-shaped and less than one cubic metre in size. They can be quickly shipped to disaster-stricken areas, along with the material needed for them to fly. “An electrolyzer is sent with the balloon so that it can be inflated with just nine litres of water. It can then function independently,” explains Karen Assaraf, a student at Télécom Paris-Tech and co-founder of the project, along with Julie Dautel and Cédric Tomissi, both students at ENSAD in Paris. This means that the Zéphyr is ready for use only hours after being delivered, and “levitates” due to the hydrogen (and a water supply), thereby saving vital time in emergencies.The project now needs to be implemented. The three designers are giving themselves two years to develop an initial prototype and then launch their start-up. According to Karen, the first step is to “improve the output of the solar panel.” Together with her two associates, she can count on EDF’s help. The technology has been laboratory-tested at the IRDEP (Institute for Research and Development on Photovoltaic Energy), which works in partnership with EDF. Zéphyr has also won the “Sharing Energy in the City 2030” competition, sponsored by EDF.To go furtherHow designers are seeing the lightSharing Energy in the City 2030

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