Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the University of Maine (UMaine) has been awarded $2,835,116 to use its polymer 3D printer, the largest in the world, for the precision manufacturing of blades for large wind turbines. This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
“The University of Maine remains a leader in additive manufacturing and wind energy technology, and this funding will harness researchers’ expertise in both areas,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “We are pleased that the Department of Energy continues to invest in UMaine’s cutting-edge research that helps to support our forest products industry, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen our clean energy economy.”
“Innovation in large offshore wind blade technology can currently be a costly and time-intensive process. Molds and tooling for large blades can cost upwards of $10 million and the 16-20 months it takes to get to market slows down innovation. By combining innovative additive manufacturing processes with bio-based, 100% recyclable feedstocks reinforced with wood, new blade development cycles can be accelerated by at least 6 months and costs reduced by 25-50%,” said Dr. Habib Dagher, executive director, UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. “I thank Senators Collins and King for their steadfast support of our cutting-edge green energy and materials research programs at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center.”
Senators Collins and King have worked to advance cutting-edge wind energy and large-scale, biobased additive manufacturing research performed at UMaine. In October 2019, they participated in UMaine’s ceremony unveiling the world’s largest polymer 3D printer and largest 3D printed object, as part of a research collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Department of Energy. As a member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins helped secure $20 million to support the partnership that created UMaine’s 3D manufacturing program. Yesterday, Senator King highlighted this research during a Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing featuring Energy Secretary nominee, former Governor Jennifer Granholm, and invited the nominee to visit the UMaine to see the project firsthand.