Clean Energy through Technology

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Sustainable Development and Renewable Energy

At the core of “Sustainability” is the notion of creating technologies, products and processes that advance economic development without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Within this discipline, SFAz’s research activities and related initiatives are focused on several areas:

  • Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Products;
  • Water Management & Environmental Services;
  • Sustainable Manufacturing (water, energy, and toxic material management);
  • Pollution Prevention & Recycling;
  • Green Construction & Sustainable Forest Services and Agriculture

Critical issues include maintaining our natural resource base while ensuring economic growth and an acceptable quality of life.

Featured Projects: Clean Energy

PEPER- Photovoltaic Environmental Performance and Reliability for the Arizona-Wide Electric Grid

Investigator: George Maracas

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $2,890,000   Term: 36 Months

There is currently no single entity certifying solar components, resulting in lack of uniform standards and inflated long-term costs. Alongside TUV, Reliasoft, and others, AZ scientists are devising universal testing methods over the full range of conditions encountered in the field, allowing Arizona to provide for this unmet national need.

Energy Storage: A Critical Component of the System for Renewable Energy Utilization

Investigator: Joseph Simmons

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SRG

Award: $2,400,000   Term: 36 Months

To use solar energy as a significant source of electrical power, we need to devise ways to store it for when demand is higher than supply. AZ scientists are working alongside Southwest Power Technologies among other, to design large underground systems that can provide this storage efficiently and aesthetically.

Sustainable Disruptive Technology for Algae-Based Jet Fuel Production in Arizona

Investigator: Qiang Hu

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $1,500,000   Term: 36 Months

Using alternative sources of energy efficiently is a matter of national priority. Arizona has an opportunity to be at the forefront of this effort, so scientists are manipulating seaweed so its outer layer is shed more easily and it can be used to produce biofuel at lower cost.

Arizona Solar Market and Analysis Tool

Investigator: Tim James

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $2,255,000   Term: 36 Months

Solar power is only practical for buildings needing additional electricity if successfully integrated with the grid so fluctuating needs can be met. Consequently, AZ scientists in partnership with Arizona Power Services and the Salt River Project among others are working on seamless integration of alternative energies into existing infrastructure.

Research Projects: Clean Energy

UA-led Strategic Research Group for Solar Energy

Investigator: Roger Angel

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SRG

Award: $1,500,000   Term: 39 Months

University and industry experts in Southern Arizona will work together to accelerate solar energy technology development to maximize the potential of sustainability industries as a source of prosperity and positive environmental impact for our state.

Solar Photovoltaic Cavity Converter and Power Conversion Unit for High Efficiency 2-Meter Solar Collecting Dish

Investigator: Eric Betterton

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SRG

Award: $592,000   Term: 18 Months

In order to predict solar energy supply, it is important to predict weather patterns accurately. AZ scientists, in partnership with Raytheon, are looking for more astute ways to predict weather with an eye for optimal management of power solar energy supply, storage, and transmission systems.

Using Regional Atmospheric Modeling to Investigate Heavy Monsoon Rainfall Events in Arizona and Socioeconomic Implications

Investigator: Christopher Castro

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $80,969   Term: 18 Months

The yearly monsoon in Arizona can be as destructive as it can be beneficial. Preparation is the key to avoiding extensive damage while maximizing benefits for Arizona crops. With this in mind, university scientists are designing computer models of weather patterns with the goal of improving prediction of monsoon storms.

Low Cost Solar-Grade Silicon for Photovoltaics

Investigator: David Lynch

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SBC

Award: $297,409   Term: 12 Months

Silicon-based photovoltaics amount to over 90% of the current market.  While that percentage is expected to shrink over the next decade, the rapid growth in demand for photovoltaics for home and commercial solar panels due to their longevity makes production of silicon-based photovoltaics a growth industry for the future.

PEPER- Photovoltaic Environmental Performance and Reliability for the Arizona-Wide Electric Grid

Investigator: George Maracas

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $2,890,000   Term: 36 Months

There is currently no single entity certifying solar components, resulting in lack of uniform standards and inflated long-term costs. Alongside TUV, Reliasoft, and others, AZ scientists are devising universal testing methods over the full range of conditions encountered in the field, allowing Arizona to provide for this unmet national need.

Assessing the Threat to Arizona Sustainability Posed by Long-Term Monsoon Failure

Investigator: Johnathan Overpeck

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: CAA

Award: $97,000   Term: 18 Months

As the climate chance, so might the Arizona monsoon which could either strengthen or weaken. University scientists are looking at past records of the monsoon to design better climate models so Arizona can prepare and make economically important decisions ranging from water management to urban planning and public health.

Infrared Emitters in Doped Nanoamorphous Carbon Using 2D Photonic Crystals

Investigator: Nasser Peyghambarian

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SBC

Award: $500,000   Term: 18 Months

TIPD, LLC, a newly formed AZ company, is creating new materials and switches requiring very little electricity which will result in more energy –efficient, more compact, and better performing optical and wireless communications networks, such as the ones used for cell phones, PDAs, and wireless computers.

Nanostructured Films for Photovolatics

Investigator: Barrett Potter

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SRG

Award: $1,700,000   Term: 36 Months

Silicon-based photovoltaics amount to over 90% of the current market and while that percentage is expected to shrink over the next decade, the rapid growth in demand for PhotoVoltaics for home and commercial solar panels makes production of silicon-based photovoltaics a growth industry for the future.

Cyanobacteria for Generating Solar-Powered, Carbo Neutral and Cost-Effective Biodiesel

Investigator: Bruce Rittmann

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $2,200,000   Term: 24 Months

Working alongside university scientists, and Arizona Public Service (APS) are developing an inexpensive biofuel without using land needed for agriculture. Such alternative sources of energy are a national priority and security and Arizona has a real opportunity to position itself at the forefront of this effort.

Exploring the Viability of Establishing an Integrated Aerospace Research Institute in the Valley

Investigator: Rick Shangraw

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $50,000   Term: 12 Months

Aerospace is one of the strong areas of potential scientific and economic growth in Arizona. Through a state-wide collaborative effort, AZ academic and industry engineering communities looked at the feasibility of starting an aerospace institute in Arizona.

Energy Storage: A Critical Component of the System for Renewable Energy Utilization

Investigator: Joseph Simmons

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SRG

Award: $2,400,000   Term: 36 Months

To use solar energy as a significant source of electrical power, we need to devise ways to store it for when demand is higher than supply. AZ scientists are working alongside Southwest Power Technologies among other, to design large underground systems that can provide this storage efficiently and aesthetically.

Function and Metabolism of Carotenoids in Cyanobacteria

Investigator: William Vermaas

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $82,756   Term: 18 Months

Certain microorganisms, called cyanobacteria, can be used as a highly economical source of energy (biofuel) as well as in environmentally friendly plastics. AZ scientists are studying the metabolism of these versatile microbes so we can make the most out of them and perhaps even boost their ability to produce energy.

Hybrid Substrates for Low Cost Solid-State Lighting and Solar Energy Applications

Investigator: John Kouvetakis

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SBC

Award: $269,700   Term: 18 Months

A new type of LED light that will be more energy efficient and will cost a lot less than what is currently available is being developed with industrial partner JROptoelectronics LLC. The new product will not only save energy, but also attract out-of-state venture capital interest.

Management Influences on Carbon Sequestration SW Ponderosa Pine Forest

Investigator: Thomas Kolb

Institution: Northern Arizona University

Program: CAA

Award: $164,000   Term: 18 Months

The risks of wildfires vary with forest density, which also influences carbon absorption and oxygen release into the atmosphere. Researchers in Northern Arizona study these important issues for our state, as well as the capacity of forests supply water to downstream communities through evaporation and condensation.

Thermal Circulation in Complex Terrain; Upslope, Downslope and Transitional Flows

Investigator: Harindra Fernando

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $106,663   Term: 18 Months

By measuring the effects of city buildings and concentrated human presence on weather and pollution in the Valley of the Sun, Arizona cities will be able to make environmentally and financially sound planning decisions and ensure accurate early prediction of catastrophic weather.

Genetics & Species Interactions Influence Climate Change Response

Investigator: Catherine Gehring

Institution: Northern Arizona University

Program: CAA

Award: $167,000   Term: 12 Months

Mushrooms often have a mutually beneficial association with the roots of crops and they are strongly affected by changes in the environment. AZ university scientists are studying how variations in the mushroom population affect economically or ecologically important plants in the state.

High Power Density Fuel Processor/Fuel Cell System Using Bio-Derived Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosenes (SPK) Fuel

Investigator: Dominic Gervasio

Institution: University of Arizona

Program: SRG

Award: $3,184,000   Term: 48 Months

The long-term future of aviation depends on the ability of planes to use alternate fuel. For this purpose, Boeing and top University researchers will develop the first bio-fuel driven fuel cells to power commercial airliners.  Boeing will demonstrate this technology in flight in 2012 with manufacturing jobs to follow.

Engineering Membrane Proteins for Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction

Investigator: Giovanna Ghirlanda

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $100,000   Term: 14 Months

Chemical and biological transformations at the microscopic level often rely on very small proteins that help make things happen. In order to better understand how these particular proteins functions, AZ scientists are creating unique models that they can easily manipulate.

Aerosol Particles Formed During Wastewater Aeration and Their Contribution to Organic Species in the Environment

Investigator: Pierre Herckes

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: CAA

Award: $106,000   Term: 18 Months

Treatment of wastewater involves vigorous mixing of air into the water. This process generates a lot of particles floating in the air, and AZ scientists are studying how these contaminants contribute to air pollution in our state.

An Advanced Biotechnology for Commercial Production and Marketing of the Natural Pigment and Antioxidant - Astaxanthin

Investigator: Qiang Hu

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SBC

Award: $584,193   Term: 36 Months

A new startup company (AstaBlend, Inc.) using beneficial sun-powered microbes as mini-manufacturing plants for the production of high-value commercial food additives for human food, animal feed, pharmaceuticals, organic fertilizers and biofuels that promise to improve human health and quality of life utilizing sustainable methods.

Sustainable Disruptive Technology for Algae-Based Jet Fuel Production in Arizona

Investigator: Qiang Hu

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $1,500,000   Term: 36 Months

Using alternative sources of energy efficiently is a matter of national priority. Arizona has an opportunity to be at the forefront of this effort, so scientists are manipulating seaweed so its outer layer is shed more easily and it can be used to produce biofuel at lower cost.

Arizona Solar Market and Analysis Tool

Investigator: Tim James

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $2,255,000   Term: 36 Months

Solar power is only practical for buildings needing additional electricity if successfully integrated with the grid so fluctuating needs can be met. Consequently, AZ scientists in partnership with Arizona Power Services and the Salt River Project among others are working on seamless integration of alternative energies into existing infrastructure.

Next Generational Solar Electric Components and Systems for Space and Terrestrial Applications

Investigator: Yong Zhang

Institution: Arizona State University

Program: SRG

Award: $1,500,000   Term: 42 Months

Despite their promise for the future of sustainable energy, solar cells are still too expensive and inefficient for many applications.AZ scientists and the Air Force are working on improving solar cell efficiency by 50%, realizing a cost reduction for of more than 20%.

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