DOE Awards $22.7 Million for Basic Solar Energy Research
May 22, 2007
DOE announced on May 22nd that it has awarded $22.7 million to 27 projects aimed at improving the capture, conversion, and use of solar energy. These basic research projects will help increase the amount of solar power in the nation's energy supply and will focus on two technical areas: the conversion of solar energy to electricity and the conversion of solar energy to chemical fuels. Directly converting sunlight to chemical fuels will help overcome the problem of the lack of nighttime solar resource and provide solar-derived energy in forms useful for transportation, residential, and industrial applications. DOE selected projects at 23 universities and two DOE national laboratories: Brookhaven National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Fourteen projects will receive $9.9 million over three years for research in the conversion of solar energy to electricity. The projects will involve such technologies as nanomaterials, organic solar cells, solar cell materials that can produce multiple excited electrons from a single photon, and "dye-sensitized" solar cells, which employ dyes to capture the energy in solar photons. Thirteen projects will receive $12.8 million over three years for research on the conversion of solar energy to chemical fuels. While some of these projects involve developing catalysts for such chemical conversions, most are aimed at mimicking the photosynthetic process that plants use to convert sunlight into stored chemical energy. See the DOE press release.