VALPARAISO | Valparaiso University has been awarded a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund solar research, the university announced Thursday.
The grant will allow VU faculty and students to develop an electrochemical cell that produces magnesium using solar-thermal energy and electrochemical processes, according to the university.
The advanced hybrid cell uses concentrated solar power for heating, minimizing the electricity requirement for magnesium separation.
VU’s system could reduce carbon emissions and electricity consumption compared to conventional production of the cells. During the three-year funding period, VU faculty and students will develop the technology needed to produce magnesium that will potentially reduce imports, emissions, and costs of production, according to the university.
The research will be conducted at the James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility on the east side of the campus. It is one of just four research solar furnaces in the U.S. and the only one at an undergraduate university.
Valparaiso University will formally dedicate the solar energy research facility Sept. 27.
The funding comes from the Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy, an organization within the Department of Energy that supports the creation of transformational energy technologies and systems through funding and managing Research and Development efforts.
"With this funding from the Department of Energy, Valpo faculty and students will push forward the energy science frontier by exploring new methods for using solar energy,” Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler said in a written statement. “The research conducted at the James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility will provide new, more efficient energy sources for creating commodities, positively impacting both the local and the national economies.”