Scientists at the University of Maine at Orono developed a scaled down sea that simulates waves and wind, and may help engineers test their innovations and find whether they can hold up to the power of the ocean.
The Ocean Engineering Laboratory at the University of Maine – which was $13.8 million – is a simulator that can create 100-foot waves (almost 30.5 metres) that exceed a speed of 200 miles per hour (about 321.86 kilometres per hour).
Program director Dr. Habib Dagher, a professor of Civil/Structural Engineering at the University of Maine and founding director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, said that 16 paddles and 32 fans will simulate a stormy ocean in the 100-foot pool. It took about six years for the pool to be built, he added.
W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory will test oil and gas equipments, boats, wave and tidal renewable energy, offshore wind turbines, aquaculture initiatives, bridges and ports, according to Dr. Dagher.
Private and public grants helped fund the project. Using the Ocean Engineering Laboratory, engineers will develop a better understanding of the ocean, Dr. Dagher said. The miniature ocean could be used in the future to simulate the impact sea level rise on coastal cities like New York, Maine, or Portland, and help scientist find protective measures for those locations.
Anthony Viselli, the manager of the facility and project manager of its equipment’s construction said that a lot of people interested in wind energy would like to test wind energy in the state of Maine.
In June 2014, the University of Edinburg, Scotland unveiled the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility, which they use to simulate the power of the ocean. The wave tank is able to simulate conditions for each coast of the United Kingdom.
The engineers who designed and built the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility, stated that results can be achieved a lot faster when things are tested in tanks that simulate the ocean (in days, or weeks), compared with tests conducted in open water that can take up to months, or even years. Faster development also means bringing more cost-effective clean energy products on the market in less time.
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