UMaine Narratives - Composite & Advanced Materials Technologies
Created by researchers at the UMaine’s AEWC Advanced Structures & Composites Center, the “Bridge in a Backpack” is going commercial.
An investment team coordinated by Brit E. Svoboda has formed a new Maine company, Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT), located at UMaine’s Target Technology Incubator.
The lightweight corrosion resistant system for short to medium span bridge construction not only has appeal for those in the transportation industry, but also for military applications.
The arches are easily transportable, rapidly deployable and do not require the heavy equipment or large crews needed to handle the weight of traditional construction materials.
Two Maine bridges have been rebuilt using the “Bridge in a Backpack” technology: the Neal Bridge in Pittsfield and the McGee Bridge in North Anson. Six more of these arch bridges will be constructed in Maine over the next two years.
In time, the company plans to design and kit these bridges in Maine, and ship them around the country. After an initial incubation of 5 years, the company sees a growth potential to over 100 jobs. These employees will include engineers, technicians, manufacturing, and sales/marketing personnel.
Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s AEWC Advanced Structures & Composites Center, is collaborating with companies on the design, manufacture, and testing of floating wind turbine technology off the Maine coast in waters 60–900 meters deep. The turbines would feature 300-foot towers with 200-foot blades prototyped, manufactured, and tested by AEWC researchers.
AEWC currently is working to open an advanced wind blade prototyping facility, where full-scale trial blades can be designed, fabricated, and tested under one roof. Funding for the facility came from the Maine Technology Institute, which in 2008 awarded nearly $5 million to two AEWC initiatives focused on the renewable energy and transportation industries.
The allocations were made possible by a $50 million Maine Technology Asset Fund R&D bond Maine voters approved in 2007.
As defined by Dagher, the current sustainable energy plan for the state is to generate 5 gigawatts of offshore wind in the next 10–20 years by installing 1,000 five-megawatt wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine.
Within 50 nautical miles of Maine’s coast is the potential to produce 149,000 megawatts of power using offshore wind—the equivalent of 40 nuclear power plants.