UT lands $2.6 million from U.S. Department of Energy

From a University of Toledo news release:

TOLEDO -- The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $13.7 million in funding for 11 university-led projects focused on developing advanced solar photovoltaic (PV) technology manufacturing processes and products.

The University of Toledo has been selected to receive a total of more than $2.6 million for two of the projects. UT was one of only two universities to be selected for two projects. Other schools receiving funding include the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Florida.

Universities selected for these projects will leverage fundamental understanding of materials and PV devices to help industry partners advance manufacturing processes and products. These projects have the potential to significantly reduce the cost of electricity produced by PV. Each university will work closely with an industry partner to ensure the projects retain a commercialization focus and that results are quickly transitioned into market ready-products and manufacturing processes.

On each of the projects, the DOE's funding will be combined with a minimum university and industry investment of 20 percent of the project's total.

UT has received $1.44 million to work with Xunlight, a recent graduate of UT's Clean and Renewable Energy Incubator, to develop a high-speed coating technology to put thin film silicon on flexible stainless steel foil, therefore reducing the costs of flexible solar modules. Xunlight was founded by Dr. Xunming Deng, a UT professor of physics. With the university and industry contribution, the project's total cost is approximately $1.9 million.

UT will also use $1.16 million in DOE funding on a project in collaboration with industry partners Calyxo USA, formerly Solar Fields, and Pilkington, and with academic partners from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the University of Michigan. On this project, the universities will assist the industrial partners in optimizing a high-speed coating process for a cadmium telluride coating on glass. The total project cost is approximately $1.7 million.

Increasing the use of solar energy is critical to diversifying our nation's energy sources in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil.

Photovoltaic-based solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity, and are made of semiconductor materials similar to those used in computer chips. When sunlight is absorbed by these materials, the solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms, allowing the electrons to flow through the material to produce electricity. The process of converting light to electricity is called the photovoltaic effect.

Projects were selected in response to DOE's June 2007, Funding Opportunity Announcement - University Photovoltaic Process and Product Development Support - which seeks to strengthen university involvement in the rapidly growing PV industry. Funding is subject to appropriations from Congress.

Posted by KO