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University of Maine, Maine Maritime Academy and Partners Receive $983,997 from the NSF for the creation of a unique offshore wind-wave generating system


The University of Maine, Maine Maritime Academy, Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) were awarded a $983,997 energy grant from the National Science Foundation for the creation of a new wind and wave generating system.

W² will be a unique, multidirectional system that will consist of a rotating open-jet wind tunnel positioned over a deep-wave basin that will be designed to work together. Using a programmable directional wave maker, wave and wind conditions similar to those in the Gulf of Maine and beyond will be simulated.

This type of system is not available anywhere else in the country.

Data collected from the project can be used to develop test standards for floating structures, particularly those requiring wind and wave interaction, such as offshore floating wind turbines.

The system also has the potential to create better understanding of wave and wind effects in the ocean that can help researchers develop new methods of capturing renewable energy, optimize the performance of existing renewable energy devices and construct future offshore infrastructures, according to a press release issued Wednesday by U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.

“Researchers at the University of Maine and their world-class partners have demonstrated ingenuity in seeking new ways to capture Maine’s abundant supply of offshore deepwater wind energy through the launch of the nation’s first grid-connected offshore floating wind turbine prototype in May,” Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. “The construction of the Wind-Wave generating system will provide students and scientists with invaluable information regarding the ocean’s interaction with offshore infrastructure as they seek to build on their already considerable achievements.”

Other uses of the equipment include testing by ocean energy developers and those in the offshore oil and gas industry; studying of wave interaction with beaches and structures by coastal engineers; and examination of the wind dispersal of marine pollutants by oil spill management companies. The facility will also be available to undergraduate and graduate students for research and will benefit K–12 students during STEM educational activities.

Krish Thiagarajan, the University of Maine’s Alston D. and Ada Lee Correll Presidential Chair in Energy and mechanical engineering professor, is the principal investigator of the project. Co-principal investigators include UMaine engineering professors Habib Dagher, Andrew Goupee and Qingping Zou, as well as Maine Maritime Academy professor Richard Kimball.

The system will be located in the Wave Wind Laboratory, a new addition to the Advanced Structures and Composites Center on the UMaine campus.

Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

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