While the vast majority of offshore wind energy development utilizes fixed bottom support structures in shallow waters that are close to shore, floating offshore wind turbines show great potential for harnessing the wind resource far from shore. Understanding the fundamental hydrodynamic forces in the offshore environment, and in particular the added challenges of operating floating platforms in the ocean environment, is crucial to the success of future projects. Not only are floating platforms subject to loading from ocean waves, but also increased motion due to the wave-body interactions. In this talk, Maija will share her research on offshore wind energy, which uses computational fluid dynamics simulations to predict loads and motions of floating structures in the ocean environment. Furthermore, she will present work from her current students’ Senior Design Project, in which a small scale floating wind turbine is being designed, built, and ultimately installed in Narragansett Bay, RI. Finally, she will include and discuss plans for future research.
Maija Benitz is an Assistant Professor in Engineering at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. She earned a BA in Physics from Colorado College, and a Masters and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UMass Amherst. Her PhD work was co-advised by David Schmidt in the Multiphase Flow Simulation Laboratory and Matt Lackner in the Wind Energy Center. Before joining Roger Williams University, she taught physics, mathematics, and engineering as a Visiting Professor at Colorado College and at the Evergreen State College.