Federal Spigot Turned to Open for Maine Ocean Research Projects

ORONO — Times may be tight and the economy may be in the tank, but Maine’s congressional delegation is bringing home the bacon, at least for some of the state’s oceanographic research projects.


Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would give the University of Maine $12.4 million to help pay for construction of a new Advanced Nanocomposites in Renewable Energy Laboratory. The grant made by the department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology comes from economic stimulus funds authorized by Congress.

The new laboratory will support the university’s research efforts toward the development of technology for the generating electricity at offshore windpower sites. The new laboratory will be an addition to the university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center that is working with the National Deepwater Offshore Research Center at UMaine.

This week, the university also received $951,000 authorized by Congress in last year’s Energy and Water Appropriations bill that will be used to help fund ongoing research into the use of tidal energy to generate electricity. A collaborative led by university scientists is currently studying tidal power off the coast of Eastport.

According to a statement from U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office, the new facility will include a nanocomposites laboratory, prototyping space for large composite structures, mechanical and environmental testing laboratories, and a test stand capable of supporting wind turbine blades up to 70 meters (about 230 feet) in length.

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