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E2TEch hosted a forum entitled, "UMaine: Clean Tech Innovation Partner" on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at UMaine Orono and telecast to USM in Portland. John Volz, Executive Director of Blackstone Accelerates Growth moderated the panel. John's mantra throughout the morning was: "In clean technology, it is important to be able to really build things."
Following are notes taken on the five presentations; at the end is a link if you'd like to download the slide presentation.
Dr. Ian Bricknell, Director of the Aquaculture Research Institute at UMaine
UMaine's Aquaculture Institute has several areas of strength and concentration:
The US imports $11 billion in seafood every year, making seafood the second largest economic trade deficit product in the US, second to oil. Much of our seafood is imported from countries whose standards of sanitation are not as high as ours.
The ARI is interested in creating cultivated seafood supplies to supplement the captured supply that our fishermen bring in.
There is also a pharmaceutical application for some aquacultural products. The industry is 30 years old in Maine.
The wild Atlantic Cod population has declined; one Maine company is growing cod to supply the Boston market.
Abalone is another species that is being farmed near Portland, for the Boston market. They sell for $30-60 per pound.
The waste products of abalone are recycled into compost; there is a zero emission system.
Walfish is easy to raise here and they are popular in Europe, so they are a good export product.
ARI's work tends to preserve working waterfront communities.
Niche companies are reappearing because of higher food costs. The carbon footprint is being reduced where the food is consumed near where it is produced.
Seaweeds are good for animal feed and biomass, as well has having pharmaceutical applications. Alginate is used in makeup.
Fermented seaweeds can be used to produce biodiesel.
ARI is working on a demonstration project in which seaweed and bivalves are used to treat sewage. Bivalves can filter bacteria out of effluent and it can reduce red tide impacts.
Larry Parent, Assistant Director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center/DeepCWind Consortium.
The AEWC program has an ISO-17025 qualified facility where they focus on 3 things:
Providing an unparalled learning experience
Being the best: producing technology leaders
Creating future business opportunities for Maine
In other words, education, excellence and economic development are their three pillars.
The center has an OSB (oriented stand board) lumber lab, producing wood-plastic composites.They have a large extruder that can make large sheets of material.
They combine waste wood with recycled plastic to form structural materials that can in turn be recycled at the end of their life.
Much of the materials they produce are applied for soldier protection.
They are doing work in nanocomposites to enhance material qualities.
They have extensive mechanical testing capabilities.
One commercial product they have produced is the bridge-in-a-backpack. Composite material is more durable than rebar over the years.
It is fast to install; has lower transportation costs and is more durable for longer life.
The company commercializing the bridge hired UMaine graduates to execute the work.
Their latest endeavor is to develop offshore wind power; their 37,000 square foot offshore wind power lab recently featured in "Popular Science". The roof's ridge slants upward to accept the motion of bending wind blades as they are tested in the facility. 230' long wind blades can be tested there.
They have a salt water immersion tank and salt farm to simulate ocean environments.
Dr. Harmant Pendse, Professor and Department Chair, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute
This school was founded in 2006 when chemical and biological engineers started working with the forestry school.
Wood that of is lower quality cannot be used for lumber or pulp fiber for paper, and still contains chemicals that can be developed into marketable products.
The are prototyping new process technologies; many are 24/7 automated production processes.
They have discovered that they can take sugars from wood before the fiber is processed into pulp for paper. This provides an additional revenue stream from one feedstock. Wood extract can be turned into agrifuels, chemicals or advanced materials.
Forest waste can be made into intermediate salts that can be processed into premium crude oil through a simple heating process. Fractional distillation process turns this into green gasoline: a drop-in fuel. Airplanes can be run on fuel made from forest waste.
Nanocellulose can be turned into an advanced, a hard-plastic material. It is ground, freeze-dried and turned into plastic. It can be added to other materials such as concrete.
IBR=Integrated biorefineries. Prototyping the process: small-scale technology demonstration is turned into advanced learning; providing the private sector with the understanding to inspire them to take investment risks.
Competing technologies can be compared side-by-side here at UMaine, for the benefit of the marketplace. In the technology resource center, R&D leads to rapid technology commercialization.
John Belding, Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Center.
Their motto at the center is: Develop, design, build and succeed.
The center provides prototyping, developing and testing.
They have five full-time staff. Engineering students work with companies to develop projects as project managers there; many graduate and go to work for the companies they trained with.
One project is a device developed by a medical doctor to diagnose neuropathy electronically.
Another is a US-made composite toe cap for work boots.
Another project takes boat exhaust gases to produce thermoelectric power.
The organization is fee-for-service based.
A few of the tools available at the center are: 3 & 4-axis machines, lathes, CNC plasma, heat treating and surface grinding. They have industry partners who can provide any services they don't offer. Climate and salt spray chambers for environmental testing, laser scanners. Rapid-prototy[ing equipment is available at USM.
Dr. Al Bushway, Professor at the Food Technology Pilot Plant.
The pilot plant contains specialized equipment: freeze drier, steam cooker, shelf life testing unit, ozone-generating equipment and more.
They also have food research and testing laboratories and a consumer testing center.
To download the slide presentation for the morning, please click here.