Top U.S. Department of Energy Official Tours the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

Orono, Maine: The Honorable Paul M. Dabbar, Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), toured the 100,000 ft2 University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) and observed demonstrations showcasing ASCC’s world-leading research in green energy and materials.

Under Secretary Dabbar observed UMaine’s VolturnUS floating concrete hull for a wind turbine being simulated in 50-year and 500-year storms in the Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory, seeing first-hand the stability of the structure even under the most extreme conditions. In August, two major global energy companies, Diamond Offshore Wind (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation) and RWE Renewables (#2 in offshore wind projects globally) announced a $100 million investment in UMaine’s floating offshore wind advanced technology demonstration project. That project is also funded through $50 million in DOE funding.

Paul Dabbar aboard 3Dirigo
The Honorable Paul Dabbar aboard 3Dirigo, the world’s largest 3D printed boat, printed at the ASCC by the world’s largest polymer 3D printer. Pictured from L-R: Habib Dagher, Honorable Paul Dabbar (Under Secretary for Science, DOE), James Anderson, Kristin Ellis (Chief of Staff, Under Secretary).

The Under Secretary also witnessed a demonstration of the world’s largest polymer 3D printer. While the immense printer, with a print envelop that measures 60’ (expandable to 100’) long by 22’ wide and 10’ tall is impressive on its own, the feedstock materials the printer uses is a major breakthrough in green materials R&D. UMaine is collaborating with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to produce new bio-based materials conducive to 3D printing large, structurally demanding systems and objects, from molds for marine and infrastructure applications to homes. This novel material, made from combining bio-based resins and nanocellulose fibers from wood, is an economical and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional 3D printing feedstocks. The goal is to print with 50% wood products at 500 lbs per hour , spurring next-generation manufacturing technologies that boost Maine’s forest products industry.

Throughout the extensive tour, the Under Secretary engaged with UMaine faculty and students to learn about their research.

“The Department of Energy is proud of all the work between universities and our laboratories across the country, and the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center is a prime example of peak scientific collaboration,” says Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the University of Maine and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.”

“It was indeed a great honor to receive Secretary Dabbar at UMaine,” says Habib Dagher, executive director, Advanced Structures and Composites Center.  “The US DOE and national labs have been key partners in the success of our offshore wind and additive manufacturing research.  These research projects are already paying dividends for the people of Maine with $100 million investment in Maine committed in August by our private sector partners RWE Renewables and Diamond Generating Corporation.  Governor Mill’s support for clean energy has been key to attracting this private investment into UMaine’s VolturnUS floating wind technology.”

All aspects of Under Secretary Dabbar’s visit were arranged to adhere to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.