Saturday, June 8, 2013

Checking on VolturnUS 1.8

    There are few things more relaxing than a paddle in the shade at the end of a long hot day.  So kayaking up-river to check on the University of Maine's new windmill seemed like a great idea, though I probably could have done without ant flavored water.*
Hey, there's a boat!
   And, to be truthful, we didn't really intend to paddle up as far as the Cianbro facility, we expected we'd meet the windmill heading downstream.  After all the ceremony launching the windmill was held at noon, and reports said it was launched and ready to be towed into position.
    But, as it turns out, the windmill was still undergoing adjustments.

      It would be early Sunday morning before the windmill passed by, towed by the Maine Maritime Academy Tug, the Pentagoet.    Look at how smoothly it flows through the water, nary a ripple!  I thought it would be like pulling a giraffe.

In addition to being the name of a Roman God of the Waters, Volturnus is a one-eighth scale model of an off-shore stationed wind turbine.  It was built by the Advance Structures and Composite Center at UMO.   This department, operating under the creative vision of Dr. Habib Dagher, has developed several other products include Bridge in a Backpack and lightweight bullet proof panels

VolturnUS is the first deep sea wind turbine to be deployed in U.S. Waters.  It's scheduled to spend the next month stationed off Dyce's Head in Castine.  Then it will be headed to deeper water beyond Vinalhaven.  Along with VoturnUS, this monitoring buoy will be placed on the water.  It uses lasers to detect wind speed 600 feet above the ocean surface.
   We also made two trips to Castine, one ahead of the windmill to check out it's placement, and the second later in the week.

   For our second trip Castine we went late afternoon so we could see the turbine moving.  It made for some interesting water at the mouth of the Bagaduce, but sadly the turbine was not operating.  I'm hoping for great results from this rig.  Even Governor LePage, normally a windpower critic, offered  support for this project.  Dr. Dagher and the Advance Structures and Composite Center bring great positive energy to the Bangor region.  As Peter Vigue, CEO of Cianbro says, "Why not Maine?"

   I really want to see it in motion and listen for the sound of the turbine spinning.  So we'll probably be headed to Castine again.  After all, there's nothing more invigorating then being out in the kind of water your boat is built to handle.

*to make ant flavored water just grab an empty plastic bottle and fill it half way.  About a mile or two from home check the bottle and discover a large ant floating in.  Worry about what the presence of a carpenter ant inside you house indicates, and try to avoid drinking the insect.   

A few articles on the turbine and its associated buoy.  (Someone there at the Advance Structures and Composite is pretty good with publicity.)  First US Floating Turbine Launched
Forbes   Maine Makes Waves
New York Times  A New Way to Harvest Wind Energy
Bangor Daily News UMaine shows off new buoy


  1. That's a nice looking turbine. How are they transmitting the collected power?

  2. Ok, that took a little research, they plan to collect the power through an undersea cable. This is the link for that:

  3. Thanks for the link with info about how the turbine would connect to the grid. I wondered because it was mentioned the turbine would be set first off Castine then later moved further offshore.

  4. Very interesting and cool post. I'm not quite clear on this windmill's purpose? Is it to collect wind speed information out on the water or is it a test windmill to collect data on harnessing wind power or water power out on the open ocean for future projects with much bigger windmills? Wind power suffers a lot of controversy and serious health problems for people living near the big monsters, especially when they arrive in great numbers. Canada has more and more of them in farmlands and near big waterways. They are not good for migrating birds, and bat kills. I miss the old fashioned windmills when life was simpler and required less energy. It will be interesting to follow this story. Thanks! Awesome pics as usual. Cheers from Canada

    1. Sorry, that's just unclear writing. The turbine is to test the design. The buoy (shown on the dock) will record wind speed. I do hear mixed reviews on wind turbines. Some people are upset by the noise, others by turbines blocking views. I can't say I've ever been near enough to a working turbine to hear the noise, but I can imagine a throbbing frequency could be annoying. Still, I think energy independence is a good thing, so I hope this turbine performs well, and can be wisely situated.