UMaine Floating Wind Turbine to Rock Space Gear

The University of Maine has been awarded nearly USD 1.4 million from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program to design an ultra-lightweight, corrosion-resistant, concrete floating offshore wind turbine.

The floating turbine will be equipped with NASA motion mitigation technology originally developed to reduce vibrations in rockets.

“With this funding, we plan to further stabilize our floating wind turbine hull technology in extreme storms by integrating NASA rocket vibration suppression technology into the design,” said Habib Dagher, executive director of the UMaine Composites Center.

”This will help lighten the hull and further decrease our already very low electricity costs. This work builds on our 12 years of experience in floating wind technology, and provides a whole new direction that could further revolutionize the design.”

UMaine has adapted the NASA technology to counteract the wind turbine’s motions, which is said to lead to lighter platforms, increased turbine performance, and a lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE). The proposal will take a radical next step in the field of offshore wind, while building on UMaine’s experience in successfully designing and deploying the first grid-connected floating offshore wind turbine in the US. The proposed technology is a departure from current floating concepts and achieves a significant LCOE reduction, even when using standard wind turbine architectures, UMaine said.

“This program will leverage the unique design, numerical modeling and scale model testing expertise located at the UMaine Harold Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory to significantly advance this concept and offer a cost-competitive solution to industry,” said Anthony Viselli, manager of offshore design and testing at the UMaine Composites Center.

In addition, the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Cente is a key collaborator in another USD 1,529,923 ARPA-E award working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to validate new, optimized designs for floating offshore wind.

In collaboration with UMaine, NREL will develop and execute the Floating Offshore-wind and Controls Advanced Laboratory (FOCAL) experimental program. The project’s goal is to generate the first public floating wind turbine scale-model data set to include advanced turbine controls, floating hull load mitigation technology, and hull flexibility.

Current FOWT numerical tools require new capabilities to adequately capture advanced designs based upon control co-design methods. The FOCAL experimental program will generate critical data sets to validate these capabilities from four 1:60-scale, 15MW turbine model-scale experimental campaigns in the UMaine Harold Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory. The experiments will generate data for FOWT loads, motion and performance, while operating with advanced turbine and platform controls in realistic wind and waves.

The UMaine Composites Center received the competitive awards from ARPA-E’s Aerodynamic Turbines Lighter and Afloat with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program, which seeks to develop radically new floating wind turbines by maximizing their rotor-area-to-total-weight ratio while maintaining or ideally increasing turbine generation efficiency; build a new generation of computer tools to facilitate turbine design; and collect real data from full- and lab-scale experiments to validate the turbine designs and computer tools.

Photo: UMaine