Durham company producing airborne power generator; US Marine Corps among customers

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Durham company produced what it calls an airborne power generator. It’s portable, self-contained, tethered to the ground, in the air, driven by wind, and produces energy.

“The way it works is the wind pushes the wing and the tether resists that push and forces the wing to accelerate,” said Windlift CEO Rob Creighton. “You balance out that acceleration with the drag from these turbines, and that’s how these turbines generate electricity.”

The Durham-based engineering and software company has the United States Marine Corps among its customers. The technology is expected to reduce the reliance on diesel fuel in remote deployments and reduce casualties and attacks on the supply chain.

“They’ve got a huge problem shipping fuel to remote places. Especially in combat environments, where somebody is actively trying to blow up your fuel trucks. It is also very dangerous for them to drive those trucks,” Creighton said.

While work continues in its Durham facility, the prototypes for the military are about a year away. Civilian use may come in three to five years.

“It really has only been in the last 5-10 years that computer technology and composite design and power electronics allow us to bring these systems into the world,” Creighton said.

The North Carolina congressional delegation has helped secure funding in a bipartisan effort to fund the completion of technology, which has been developed over 11 years.

“The Biden administration recognizes climate change is a major threat to national security, both domestically and internationally. Focusing resources on new technologies that can help alleviate the impact of climate change as a national security priority, and they’re going to be putting funding into the Defense Department to help mitigate climate change,” Creighton said.

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