Alternative Energy

Last Friday, the Office of Naval Research announced that they would be donating a total of $1.2 million dollars in the form of a grant to the University of Houston, with the stated purpose of the money being, according to a press release on the university’s website, “to help design the next generation of technologies for the alternative energy industry.”

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Out of a total of $1.5 million dollars put toward such clean energy research by the Office of Naval Research, $300,000 went toward the Naval Research Laboratory and the University of New Mexico as a contribution to their collaborative endeavor to develop “new thin-film solar cells, thin-film batteries and nano-sensors for wind turbine blades.” The remainder, while dedicated to the University of Houston, was also put forth with the stated aim of research and development efforts in the realm of clean energy approaches to solar cells and batteries, and the development of new technologies to take advantage of the results of this research.

Physics professor Seamus Curran, who is also the leader of the Institute for NanoEnergy (INE) at the University of Houston as well as the lead researcher on the current project being sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, was pleased with the grant.

“This is a great opportunity to develop technologies that will strengthen and expand the use of alternative sources of energy globally. With energy demand increasing, considerable effort and investment is going into new energy generation and storage,” Curran said in the press release on the University of Houston’s website. “This project also falls right in line with the university’s education and research goals and its mission to become a Tier One institution.”

The press release also explained that thin-film solar cells are “lightweight, durable, and easy to use,” and that researchers are attempting to improve their capacity to handle larger amounts of storage to make them a useful alternative to their less environmentally-friendly counterparts, silicon cells. The manufacturing of such units may result in the creation of an entirely new sector of green jobs.