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Week of September 26, 2011

Study: Ice’s effect on offshore wind power

In an effort to better understand the market barriers to offshore wind energy, U-M researchers will examine the impact of ice on power-generating turbines operating offshore in the harsh winter weather of the Great Lakes.

The Department of Energy recently announced funding for two U-M studies that will explore the effect of ice at the water surface and above on the potential collection and distribution of power by offshore wind turbines. The researchers’ work will concentrate on the Great Lakes, and are among $43 million dollars in DoE grants provided for 41 wind energy projects nationwide. The studies are launched to speed technical innovations, lower costs and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems. The U-M work includes:

• A $400,000 grant to develop computerized modeling tools that will simulate surface water ice and the impact of ice-loading or pressure on offshore structures. The analysis will inform the design of turbines that could be deployed at varying depths in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The project is led by Dale Karr, associate professor of naval architecture and marine engineering, College of Engineering.

• A $690,000 award to analyze seasonal trends and conduct field measurement related to ice, wind and wave loads on fixed offshore structures. Measurements will be assessed at the water surface level and above, where atmospheric icing can collect on turbine blades. The project is led by Guy Meadows, director of the Ocean Engineering Lab; and professor of physical oceanography in the Department of Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering and the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences.

The investigations are closely related to a joint U-M, Grand Valley State project that will study the feasibility of offshore wind power on Lake Michigan based on data collected by a massive research buoy slated for deployment this fall. Meadows is U-M’s lead investigator on that project.



Dan Shere, LSA screenwriting lecturer, on what inspires him: "New ideas, or fresh takes on old ideas."


John Malkovich in “The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer,” 8 p.m. Oct. 1, Hill Auditorium. Sponsored by the University Musical Society.

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