Virginia Tech Awarded Funding for Offshore Wind Research
August 31, 2021
Virginia Tech has executed an $800,000 research agreement jointly funded by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (Consortium) and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The research project, titled The Dual-Functional Tuned Inerter Damper for Enhanced Semi-Sub Offshore Wind Turbine, seeks to improve stability in offshore wind floating platforms while harvesting wind and wave induced vibration energy.
“The Consortium is excited to advance offshore wind energy by supporting research efforts that accelerate deployment in the United States. We are particularly pleased that our partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia supports this effort and will provide valuable data to develop innovative technology for the offshore wind industry,” said Carrie Cullen Hitt, Executive Director, National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium.
“Technology advancements in offshore wind are key to reducing the cost of energy and enabling the growth of the industry. We are excited that Virginia Tech has committed their research expertise to this important offshore wind and clean energy effort" said John W. Warren, Director of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.
Offshore wind energy is collected via wind turbines constructed in bodies of water anchored to the seabed and towering roughly 70-160 meters above the surface of the water. Wind speeds are typically high and consistent in these environments, increasing wind generation potential. However, a significant obstacle for deploying and operating windmill in offshore ocean is the support structures, which are subjected to huge loads and vibration from both wind and ocean waves.
Dr. Lei Zuo, Robert E. Hord, Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech and the project lead, in collaboration with GE Research Center, is taking a new approach to floating wind turbine platforms that harvest energy from both the wind moving the turbine blades and the vibration of the waves upon which the turbines float. Vibration absorbers built into the turbine’s foundation stabilize the structure amidst churning ocean waves and convert the motions of waves into electricity, producing an extra 10 percent by Zuo’s calculations. The additional foundation stability expands the range of conditions in which turbines can operate, increasing the possible deployment area for compatible turbines.
Of the $800,000 award, approximately $488,000 will be provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia, with the Consortium funding the balance.
The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, established in 2018, is a not-for-profit public-private partnership focused on advancing offshore wind technology in the United States through high impact research projects and cost-effective and responsible development to maximize economic benefits. Funding for the Consortium comes from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), with each providing $20.5 million, as well as contributions from the Commonwealths of Virginia and Massachusetts and the States of Maryland and Maine, bringing total investment to approximately $47 million. For more information, please visit nationaloffshorewind.org.
Lei Zuo is Robert E. Hord Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the NSF IUCRC Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems. His research focus on marine renewable energy, energy harvesting, mechatronics design, vibration control, self-powered sensors, and advanced manufacturing. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.