US DOE selects eight solar research projects for ARPA-E funding

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected eight solar research projects to receive funding under the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) “Open 2012” programme.

They were part of 66 total projects selected for funding and will receive money from the US$130 million investment by the DOE to further research in 11 technology areas, which will  be completed throughout 24 states. The solar projects are led by researchers from universities, industry and national labs and will receive a total of more the US$14 million.

Selected organisations include the California Institute of Technology, which received US$2,400,000 to develop an optical device that focuses on and splits sunlight into individual colour bands in order to improve the efficiency of solar electricity generation; the Georgia Institute of Technology, granted US$3,600,000 for the development of a high-efficiency solar reactor to produce solar fuel and Glint Photonics securing US$523,172 to develop a solar concentrator that can capture the full amount of available sunlight no matter the sun’s position.

MicroLink Devices will receive US$3,316,705 towards the development of high-efficiency solar cells to capture concentrated sunlight using a blend of crystal layers in a new design, while the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) won two awards. The first, for US$890,000, will see it develop a solar thermal electric generator to directly convert heat from concentrated sunlight to electricity using a new generation of thermoelectric materials that can operate at higher temperatures and efficiencies. The NREL’s second grant, this time for US$800,000, will go towards the development of a new approach to enhance the efficiency of low-cost plastic solar cells with specially constructed photonic structures to capture a larger part of the solar spectrum. 

Otherlab was selected for a US$1,600,000 award in order to build an inexpensive method to reflect sunlight onto a solar tower using small mirrors. Finally, the University of California Santa Cruz was selected for a US$1,624,030 to develop a new optical device for harvesting concentrated sunlight into optical fibers, solar cells and solar thermal storage devices.

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