The NASA Floater: 15 MW Ultra-light Concrete Hull with Sea-water Ballast Tuned Mass Dampers

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Orono, Maine
Project Term:
04/21/2020 - 06/30/2023

Critical Need:

Floating offshore wind turbines (FOWTs) are currently designed to replicate more familiar onshore wind turbine dynamics, maintain stability, and survive storms. However, this approach fundamentally limits how inexpensive FOWTs can ever become as the FOWT must maintain mass and geometry constraints dependent on the wave regime and turbine size. Radically new designs that do not adhere to these mass and geometric constraints—applying the control co-design (CCD) approach of substituting mass by control systems—can significantly reduce the costs of FOWTs. CCD methodologies integrate all relevant engineering disciplines at the start of the design process, with feedback control and dynamic interaction principles as the primary drivers of the design. To design innovative, economically competitive FOWTs, researchers must overcome several significant technical barriers: insufficient current knowledge of how FOWT subsystem dynamics interact; insufficient computer tools for dynamic simulation; and a dearth of experimental data. ATLANTIS will address these technical barriers while exploring radically new FOWT design concepts that minimize mass and maximize productive rotor area to provide economical offshore wind power.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The University of Maine (UMaine) team will design an ultra-lightweight, corrosion-resistant, concrete FOWT equipped with NASA motion mitigation technology originally developed to reduce vibrations in rockets. UMaine proposes this technology to counteract FOWT motions, leading to lighter platforms, increased turbine performance, and a lower levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The project will take a radical next step in the field of floating offshore wind while building upon UMaine’s 12 years of experience in successfully designing and deploying the first grid-connected FOWT in the U.S. The proposed technology applies CCD methodologies to find a new FOWT concept and significantly reduce the LCOE. The project will leverage the design, numerical modeling, and scale model testing capabilities of the UMaine Harold Alfond W2 Wind-Wave Ocean Engineering Laboratory to significantly advance this concept.

Potential Impact:

ATLANTIS projects will aim to develop new and potentially disruptive innovations in FOWT technology to enable a greater market share of offshore wind energy, ultimately strengthening and diversifying the array of domestic energy sources available.


Diverse, domestic energy resources can boost grid resiliency and reduce infrastructure vulnerabilities.


Increased availability of affordable, reliable wind energy could lessen reliance on fossil fuels, reducing power sector emissions.


Program developments in FOWTs could reduce the cost of wind energy production and provide an entirely new option for the offshore wind industry, as well as access to significant wind resources near major population centers on U.S. coastlines.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Mario Garcia-Sanz
Project Contact:
Dr. Anthony Viselli
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