Selected Research & Development Projects
The Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine is a world leader providing research, education, and economic development encompassing material sciences, manufacturing, and the engineering of composites and structures.
The UMaine Composites Center is a designated University of Maine Signature Research Program, titled, “Advanced Materials in Infrastructure and Energy.“
Although the Center was initially dedicated to product development and wood composites research, it quickly expanded its capabilities into four other research areas: defense and aerospace, civil infrastructure, ocean energy, and nanocomposites. Learn more about our history.
The UMaine-developed, patented, VolturnUS floating concrete hull technology can support wind turbines in water depths of 45 meters or more, and has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind.
The VolturnUS technology is the culmination of more than a decade of collaborative research and development conducted by the University of Maine-led DeepCwind Consortium.
Composite Arch Bridges
The Composite Arch Bridge System, commonly known as Bridge-In-A-BackpackTM, has been used in 23 bridges in the US and beyond. This technology accelerates bridge construction time, reduces life cycle costs and has received top industry recognition.
Composite Arch Bridges are a lightweight, corrosion resistant system for short to medium span bridge construction using composite arch tubes that act as reinforcement and formwork for cast-in-place concrete. This innovative composite bridge system is American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved, lowers construction costs, extends structural lifespan up to 100 years, and is a greener alternative to concrete and steel construction.
Advanced Infrastructure Technologies is a privately held company licensed by the University of Maine to produce these bridges.
HIAD (Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator) is a nose-cone-mounted inflatable structure consisting of multiple, concentric, nitrogen-filled tori that is designed to decelerate and protect spacecraft during atmospheric re-entry. NASA successfully demonstrated HIAD on a small-scale, but their models were not aligning with expectations. The UMaine Composites Center was engaged by NASA to validate a model that will facilitate optimized HIAD designs to deploy on critical missions with confidence.
Norway Spruce Testing for NELMA
Researchers tested 1,320 boards – in bending and tension – cut from trees harvested in Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin and four regions of New York state for NELMA, the Northeast Lumber Manufacturer’s Association. Click here to learn more.
Longest composite bridge in the world
Longterm durability of bridges is a major concern for transportation departments across the country. In response to this concern, the UMaine Composites Center validated a hybrid composite beam designed by HC Bridge Company, LLC, that was fabricated by Harbor Technologies in Brunswick, Maine. The hybrid composite beam, made of fiber-reinforced polymer, is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and strong enough to be used for bridge construction.
The Knickerbocker Bridge, over Back River in Boothbay, ME, is the longest composite bridge in the world at 540 feet long and is 32 feet wide. The bridge opened to traffic in 2011.
Designed in partnership with Hodgdon Defense Composites and Maine Marine Manufacturing, the UMaine Composites Center performed testing on a special operations boat with a fully composite hull to replace the aluminum hull craft currently used by US Navy Seals. This 83-foot long, impact-resistant prototype is the result of a $15 Million research and development project that resulted in the first all-composites hull for the US Navy.
Modular Ballistic Protection System (MBPS)
MBPS is a quickly erectable, re-deployable, and lightweight ballistic protection system. MBPS provides ballistic protection for personnel and equipment in expeditionary base camps where mobility and rapid deployment requirements prevent the immediate use of heavyweight systems like sandbags and concrete barriers. MBPS requires no tools to up-armor a standard issue 20 ft x 32 ft tent and can be deployed in less than 30 minutes by 4 soldiers.
Consortium for Manufacturing Innovation in Structural Thermoplastics (CMIST)
Advancing Structural Thermoplastic Composites Manufacturing in the U.S.
In May 2015, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center $497,965 for mapping technical manufacturing challenges in structural thermoplastic materials. Through this award, UMaine Composites Center has formed Consortium for Manufacturing Innovation in Structural Thermoplastics (CMIST) with partners U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), Celanese Corporation, Eastman Chemical Company, Polystrand, and Royal TenCate.
Blast Resistant Structures
In partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers ERDC, the UMaine Composites Center developed blast-resistant structures with coated wood framing members, panels and subassemblies. These blast-resistant materials are economically coated to enhance the construction material’s ductility and energy dissipation capacity.
In addition to superior blast resistance, benefits of these structures include: cost-efficiencies, ease of assembly, environmental durability, rapid deployment, high strength to weight ratios, and protection from moisture absorption, termites, ants and biodegradation. The images to the left show Conventional construction (left) vs last Resistant Modular Construction (right) after truck bomb equivalent.
Secure Hybrid Composite Shipping Container
Funded by the Department of Homeland Security, the UMaine Composites Center and its partners developed a shipping container that mitigates security risks associated with marine cargo.
The Secure Hybrid Composite Shipping Container is lighter than conventional containers and features intrusion and door opening detection capabilities.
Georgia Tech Research Institute designed the security system for the container, featuring embedded sensors to detect intrusions, and door opening sensors to monitor access to the container.
DeepCLiDAR is an advanced metocean buoy outfitted with LIDAR, created with funding from the US Department of Energy and the Maine Technology Institute. DeepCLiDAR can be used in remote marine environments to provide high quality, low-cost offshore wind resource data, metocean monitoring, and ecological characterization capabilities. Developed in partnership with Dr. Neal Pettigrew of the UMaine Physical Oceanography Group, AWS Truepower, and NRG Renewable Systems.
Cross-laminated Timber (CLT)
UMaine is manufacturing and testing CLT made with both solid sawn and composite lumber (and hybrids including both) from Maine and the Northeastern forests of the United States. CLT is a massive timber construction product; two-by solid-sawn, or composite lumber glued together and stacked in alternating directions.
UMaine is also investigating the technical and economic feasibility of the creation of a facility to manufacture and market CLT and/or hybrid CLT systems to the northeastern US.
- Developed in Austria in the 1990s.
- Offers rapid construction times and improved environmental profiles relative to concrete.
- Buildings with 10 stories have been built with CLT; designs for high rise “plyscrapers” in the works.
- Two manufacturers in Canada; two in the U.S., though both in the western region (OR and MT).