Local event organized by congressman helped bring in one $1.5 million grant for solar technology development

TUCSON – September 27, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today welcomed announcements that the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $6.5 million in grants to the University of Arizona for solar-energy research.

The UA received one of the grants, for $1.5 million, after federal officials invited to Tucson by Barber toured UA development labs. The federal award is being supplemented by $275,000 from REhnu Inc., a Tucson solar startup headed by Dr. John P. Schaefer, a former UA president.

“This is exactly the type of game-changing development that can make Arizona a leader in solar,” Barber said today. “Through technological innovation, it has the potential to bring jobs to Southern Arizona and drive the cost down to where solar can provide energy at current prices.

“The UA and its partnerships with REhnu and with in-state steel frame and glass manufacturers make this a powerful synergy,” Barber added. “The University of Arizona should be congratulated for providing an environment that leverages its leadership in optics for this kind of practical commercial application.”

As district director for then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Barber organized a 2011 trip to Tucson for the director of the Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to participate in a solar roundtable. While in Tucson, the director toured UA’s solar research labs. It was this agency that awarded the $1.5 million grant to UA.

“We appreciate Rep. Barber helping to bring our work to the notice of Department of Energy officials,” said Roger Angel, UA professor of astronomy and optical sciences and head of the research team. “It was critical for us to get an opportunity to explain and demonstrate in person what we do.”

Barber long

has been supportive of UA efforts to develop solar technology and recently held another solar roundtable at the UA Science and Technology Park. He is a member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition in the House of Representatives.

Angel is working to optimize and validate a glass-molding technique that creates very precise solar mirrors in a variety of shapes. The focus is on developing a novel hot-glass molding process aimed at high-speed production at low cost. In parallel, the research team is developing a new way to boost second-surface silver reflectivity and inhibit soiling.

The DOE SunShot Initiative also recently awarded a $5 million solar research grant to UA to investigate ways of transferring heat created by solar energy to power plants.

UA will lead a team that also includes Arizona State University and Georgia Tech University to study the ability of molten salt-based fluids to hold and transfer solar-generated heat.

Fluids used today can operate at temperatures up to 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit. UA will research fluids that can operate at temperatures up to 2,350 degrees, which will allow turbines at power plants to run more efficiently on the same amount of solar-generated heat.

The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.

Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012

Mark Kimble
Communications Director
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber
Arizona’s 8th Congressional District
(520) 881-3588 or (520) 904-5876

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