To advance promising utility-scale solar energy technologies, DOE will make up to $10 million available to support the development of more efficient heat transfer fluids to reduce the cost of energy from concentrating solar power (CSP) systems.
The announcement also opens the second round of SunShot Initiative postdoctoral research awards for applied research at universities, national laboratories, and other research facilities.
"In the spirit of our nation's long legacy of innovation, researchers at America's universities continue to make breakthroughs that revolutionize how the world uses energy," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu as he announced the opportunities.
"These university-based research opportunities represent important investments that will advance key solar technologies and foster the next generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs in solar energy," he said.
DOE will provide up to $10 million to university-based projects over five years to develop and demonstrate innovative heat transfer fluids for use in CSP energy systems.
CSP plants use mirrors to focus sunlight to heat a working fluid. This high-temperature fluid generates steam, which then spins a turbine or powers a heat engine that produces electricity.
Developing advanced heat transfer fluids could significantly increase the efficiency of CSP technology and help drive down the cost of reliable, renewable solar power.
The Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative: High Operating Temperature Fluids solicitation seeks applicants to develop innovative heat transfer fluids that are more stable than current technologies at temperatures greater than 800ºC. This could enable CSP systems to couple with heat engines capable of converting more than 50 percent of the heat in the working fluid into electricity.
The funding will be awarded as part of the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, a program designed to advance research, accelerate technology transfer into the marketplace, and prepare a new generation of scientists and engineers to become leaders in the solar power industry.
In addition, Secretary Chu announced the next round of SunShot Initiative postdoctoral research awards, which will provide the best and brightest scientific minds in the country with an opportunity to work on advanced clean energy technologies and conduct applied research at universities, national laboratories, and other research facilities.
SunShot postdoctoral researchers and awardees pursuing topics in renewable energy and energy efficiency will have access to unique education and training opportunities, top scientists in their field, and state-of-the-art projects and equipment.
The program announcement includes an opportunity for recipients to participate in a research exchange program with Australia under the aegis of the United States-Australia Solar Energy Collaboration.
With researchers from Australia having already begun their work in the United States, this exchange opportunity provides a complementary mechanism for U.S. scientists to conduct research under the mentorship of Australian scientists in Australian solar research laboratories.
Postdoctoral research positions are offered by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) in support of the SunShot Initiative's mission. More information is available on the SunShot postdoctoral research awards, as well as other EERE postdoctoral research opportunities.
The SunShot Initiative is a nationwide effort that aims to dramatically decrease the total costs of solar energy at the utility, commercial, and residential levels by 75 percent before the end of the decade, making solar energy cost-competitive with conventional, unsubsidized forms of electricity and enabling widespread deployment of solar energy.
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