Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category

UMaine Mentioned in Sen. King Op-Ed Published in Sanford News

Friday, September 19th, 2014

University of Maine programs were mentioned in an opinion piece by Sen. Angus King that was posted on, a service of Sanford News. In the column, titled “Education must be dynamic to keep pace with changing world,” King wrote about partnerships between UMaine and state high schools, including the Bridge Year Program and the College of Engineering’s agreement with Thornton Academy in Saco. “These partnerships and programs all recognize the same truth: If Maine is to grow and succeed in an increasingly complex world, the way we deliver education to our students must be as dynamic as the world into which we’re sending them,” King wrote.

Free Press Advances Goupee’s Searsport Talk on Offshore Wind Power

Friday, September 19th, 2014

The Free Press reported University of Maine Assistant Libra Professor of Mechanical Engineering Andrew Goupee will discuss “Floating Offshore Wind: Becoming a Reality?” at Penobscot Marine Museum’s Main Street Gallery in Searsport on Sept. 25. Goupee is an engineer at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

WABI Reports on New Wind and Wave Facility

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

WABI (Channel 5) reported on the new wind and wave laboratory being built at the University of Maine. Earlier this summer, UMaine broke ground for an $8 million facility that will house W² — the world’s first wind and wave lab to feature a rotating open-jet wind tunnel above a 100-foot-long by 30-foot-wide by 15-foot-deep wave basin. Waves and wind can be created from different directions converging at a point and creating a storm. The W² facility is an expansion of the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. “We’ve surveyed over 50 companies across the U.S. that are in different sectors — in the oil and gas sector, in the ocean energy sector, as well as in the boat-building sector. And they all are excited about a facility like this, where they can come and test their devices,” said Habib Dagher, director of the UMaine Composites Center. “If you’ve seen the movie ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,’ essentially we’ll be shrinking ships here, we’ll be shrinking offshore wind devices, tidal devices and testing them here under these extreme storms.” The Maine Edge also carried a report about the facility.

Environmentalist, Author McKibben to Speak at UMaine Oct. 7

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Environmentalist Bill McKibben will speak about “Making a Life on a Tough New Planet” at the University of Maine’s Collins Center for the Arts on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

The lecture, which runs from 3:30–5 p.m., is hosted by the UMaine Honors College as part of its Honors Read program in which entering students read and discuss an important recent book as part of the curriculum. The Honors Read for 2014–2015 is McKibben’s book, “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.”

Described by The Boston Globe as “probably America’s most important environmentalist,” McKibben is the author of 15 books and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Outside and The New York Review of Books. His 1989 “The End of Nature” is often regarded as the first book on climate change written for a general audience. McKibben is founder of — a worldwide, grassroots climate change movement — and he currently serves as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, McKibben received the Gandhi Peace Award and the Thomas Merton Award for his ardent environmental activism.

Honors students who chose “Eaarth” as this year’s Honors Read were persuaded by McKibben’s argument that the “reality of global climate change is not up for discussion.”

The event is free and open to the public. Co-sponsors include the UMaine Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series; School of Policy and International Affairs; School of Marine Sciences; Maine Business School; College of Education and Human Development; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; College of Engineering; UMaine Humanities Initiative; Department of Chemistry; School of Earth and Climate Sciences; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program; and Department of History.

Storm Center

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

What’s it like to weather a perfect storm?

Engineers at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) soon will find out.

They’ll have the capability to create one.

Earlier this summer, UMaine broke ground for an $8 million facility that will house W² — the world’s first wind and wave lab to feature a rotating open-jet wind tunnel above a 100-foot-long by 30-foot-wide by 15-foot-deep wave basin.

Waves and wind can be created from different directions converging at a point and creating a perfect storm. The W² facility is an expansion of the UMaine Composites Center, which will increase in size from 83,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet.

“Our current 83,000-square-foot laboratory is used to design, fabricate and test large structures under simulated static, fatigue, earthquake, wind and vehicular loads, and has been doing so for clients around the world for nearly 18 years,” says Habib Dagher, professor of civil/structural engineering, Bath Iron Works Professor of Structural Engineering and founding director of the UMaine Composites Center.

“With the W² facility, we are adding more capabilities to test advanced structures under combined aero- and hydrodynamics loadings.”

UMaine and its partners — including students, MMA engineer Rich Kimball and industrial colleagues — will be able to assume the role of Mother Nature in the wind-wave generating lab.

A wave maker at one end of the basin will be capable of creating waves of varying frequency and as high as 2 feet. The rotating open-wind jet tunnel will produce wind that howls as fast as 22 mph and that can be manipulated to change direction. Scientists also will be able to move the basin’s concrete floor up and down to model a variety of ocean depths.

Picture scenes from The Perfect Storm and The Truman Show.

But rather than stage movie scenes, W² will allow researchers to physically replicate a myriad of realistic, to-scale ocean conditions — in the Gulf of Maine, Gulf of California, Gulf of Mexico, Canada’s eastern seaboard, the North Sea and the Persian Gulf.

“This is a huge opportunity. It’s a landmark,” says Dagher.

Offshore wind turbines, tidal energy devices, seafaring vessels and oil and gas rigs will be able to be tested under a variety of wind and wave conditions. By directly observing structures’ performances, researchers can expect to improve the structures’ respective designs.

“Wind squall, where winds change direction and intensity rapidly, is an important design condition for many ship-shaped structures producing oil and gas in various parts of the world. We can simulate such an environment in W²,” says Krish Thiagarajan, Correll Presidential Chair in Energy and professor of mechanical engineering at UMaine.

And, a beach at one end of the wave basin will enable coastal engineers to study erosion, seawalls, breakwaters, and the impact of sea-level rise on communities. The facility, says Dagher, could also be geared for aquaculture structures research.

For Dagher, Thiagarajan and fellow engineers in the UMaine Composites Center, including Andrew Goupee and Qinping Zou, W² will be an integral addition to the adjacent University of Maine Offshore Wind Laboratory.

There, UMaine scientists are developing commercial technologies to harness power from deepwater offshore wind. In May 2013, UMaine and its partners launched VolturnUs 1:8, the nation’s first grid-connected offshore wind turbine.

The 65-foot-tall semisubmersible floating turbine has a foundation of hollow concrete tubes, catenary mooring lines and a composite materials tower. During its approximate yearlong mooring off the coast of Castine, it collected valuable data to advance its design and performance. VolturnUS 1:8 is a scale prototype for a 6-megawatt floating wind turbine with blades the length of a Boeing 747′s wingspan.

W², says Dagher, will further enable UMaine scientists to research how offshore wind can be cost-effectively harnessed. Studies indicate offshore wind energy capacity within 50 miles of the United States is four times the nation’s current total generation capacity.

Company leaders from a variety of fields surveyed around the country have expressed interest in advancing their respective technologies at the laboratory, says Dagher.

They’ll have to be patient, though.

UMaine is scheduled for the first project when the world-class physical modeling environment is complete in May 2015 — testing a vertical-axis floating wind turbine.

W² was designed and is being built in conjunction with partners Sandia National Laboratories, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and MMA.

Cianbro Corp. is constructing the facility and Tom Perkins of Dirigo Architectural Engineering LLC in Turner is project manager.

The $8 million investment to design, construct and equip the W² facility was secured from outside the university, including successful grant proposals from the National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation program and the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

“It was a dream that we have been working hard to design and finance for six years, and now it’s being built; I cannot wait to see industry and students using it,” Dagher says.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777


AP Article States UMaine Bridge Technology Used in Vermont

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

The Associated Press reported technology developed by the University of Maine is being used by a Vermont Transportation Agency program that aims to cut construction time, save money and reduce the backlog of bridges that need replacement. Last month, construction crews placed a series of hollow tubes over the Wanzer Brook in Fairfield, Vermont. The composite arch bridge, known as Bridge-in-a-BackpackTM, was developed at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Sun Journal, Burlington Free Press and Fox Business carried the AP report.

Media Cover Event Marking Offshore Wind Turbine’s First Year

Monday, September 8th, 2014

The Associated Press, Bangor Daily News, Mainebiz and WVII (Channel 7) covered an event held in Castine where officials from the University of Maine and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and members of Maine’s congressional delegation marked one year since the deployment of VolturnUS, a prototype that’s one-eighth the scale of a full-size offshore wind turbine. UMaine officials reported the turbine successfully withstood more than a dozen severe storms in its first year. UMaine also signed an agreement with the DOE that will give the university $3.8 million to continue design and engineering work on the full-scale turbine. “Today, we can declare VolturnUS mission accomplished,” said Habib Dagher, the director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, who added he is now preparing to turn his attention to designing and building the full-scale version. WABI (Channel 5) and The Republic carried the AP report, and the Sun Journal carried the BDN report.

DOE Officials Mark Yearlong Deployment of VolturnUS, Sign $3.97M Cooperative Research Agreement

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of the original story.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud welcomed top officials from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to Castine on Sept. 5 to celebrate a successful year of the VolturnUS floating wind turbine deployed off Castine.

“This anniversary is another great day for our state, the university and its many partners, and for the advancement of clean, renewable energy for our nation,” said Collins. “This is a remarkable achievement and confirms my belief that the most innovative and dedicated wind energy researchers in the world are working right here in Maine.”

Michaud said the VolturnUS wind turbine is an incredible project and a great example of the type of forward-thinking ideas that can strengthen our economy in the years to come and define Maine as a leader in innovative technologies.

“The UMaine team has done incredible work to get not just VolturnUS up and running, but many other promising initiatives as well. I look forward to continuing to partner with them on advancing these projects that will strengthen Maine’s economy,” he said.

The federal officials were joined by representatives from the University of Maine, Maine Maritime Academy and Cianbro, who discussed highlights of the yearlong deployment off the coast of Castine. VolturnUS, a one-eighth scale model of a 6 MW floating wind turbine with more than 50 sensors on board, has been successfully operating and collecting data related to design capabilities for more than a year, including throughout the Maine winter.

Among the data highlights:

  • The VolturnUS 1:8 successfully withstood 18 severe storms equivalent to 50-year storms, and one 500-year storm.
  • The maximum acceleration measured was less than 0.17 g for all 50- and 500-year storms, which matched numerical predictions.
  • The maximum tower inclination angle measured was less than 7 degrees in all 50- and 500-year storms, and these numbers matched predictions.

In addition, as part of the event, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson signed a $3.97 million cooperative research agreement with UMaine, of which is $3 million in DOE funding and $970,000 in cost share, to continue the design and engineering work of the full-scale VolturnUS floating hull.

The other members of the Congressional Delegation also sent congratulations on the VolturnUS project.

“I am pleased to offer my congratulations to the University of Maine as it welcomes this important award and celebrates more than a year of continued success by VolturnUS. This pioneering project represents the next generation of wind technology, and it has the potential to revolutionize how we think about and how we utilize our energy resources. Today’s investment by the Department of Energy is another milestone in its progress and is a renewed recognition of the excellent work done by so many across Maine who will continue to strive to secure a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy future through VolturnUS,” said Sen. Angus King.

“This project is an example of two of Maine’s most valuable resources at work: offshore wind that can become a new source of clean energy and the ingenuity and technical skill that can harness that wind. Maine is uniquely positioned to be a leader in offshore wind technology and this successful demonstration project is proof of that,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree.

“We appreciate the continued support of the Department of Energy in the University of Maine’s ongoing efforts in deepwater offshore wind technology research and development,” said UMaine President Susan Hunter. “It’s through partnerships like this in the federal, state, education and industry sectors that the University of Maine most efficiently and effectively addresses the needs of the state.”

The VolturnUS floating turbine is a patent-pending technology developed at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Laboratory by UMaine and Cianbro personnel. In June 2013, it became the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine deployed in the Americas, and the first floating turbine in the world designed using a concrete hull and a composites material tower to reduce costs and create local jobs. The turbine is a 1:8 geometric scale test program to prepare for the construction of a larger 6 MW floating turbine. The project brought together more than 30 organizations as part of the DeepCwind Consortium, led by UMaine and funded through a competitive DOE grant and industry contributions.

“The success of the VolturnUS 1:8 test project deployed off Castine is a critical milestone on our path to allow us to economically harness the enormous wind power far offshore the U.S.” said Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. “The VolturnUS concrete floating hull technology has the potential to harness over 50 percent of the U.S. 4,000 GW offshore wind resource. With 156 GW of offshore wind capacity off the Maine coast, and 4,000 GW off the U.S. coast, we have an opportunity to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, stabilize energy prices over the long run, help protect the environment, stimulate local economic activity and create a new industry.”

Contact: Joshua Plourde, 207.581.2117

Newburyport Daily News Interviews Student About Engineers Without Borders Trip

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

The Daily News of Newburyport, Massachusetts spoke with Spencer Traxler, a bioengineering student at the University of Maine, about his trip to Ecuador as part of the UMaine student group Engineers Without Borders. The Newburyport native was one of six UMaine students to travel to La “Y” de La Laguna in August on an assessment trip to open the door to a long-term project to improve water security in the 300-person community. “We are going to develop a relationship with the community,” Traxler said ahead of the trip.

Advanced Structures and Composites Center Testing Largest Structure Yet, Media Report

Friday, August 29th, 2014

The Bangor Daily News reported engineers at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center are evaluating a 180-foot wind turbine blade for strength testing. Habib Dagher, director of the center, said the blade is the largest structure ever to be tested at the facility, which is one of two sites in the nation capable of handling the blade. He told the BDN there is a growing interest across the nation in using fewer but larger turbines because they are more cost-effective in energy production. Power Engineering, Recharge News and Renewable Energy News also reported on the testing.