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Prof. Vandervelde Receives $975K Grant for Thermophotovoltaics Research

February 26, 2010

Assistant Professor Tom Vandervelde, the John A. and Dorothy M. Adams Faculty Development Professor, has received a three-year grant for $975,000 from the Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC). Professor Vandervelde directs the Renewable Energy and Applied Photonics (REAP) Labs where the research will be conducted.

The focus of the grant is to create low-temperature thermophotovoltaics (TPVs). TPV cells are a lot like solar cells (photovoltaics), but instead of converting visible light, they convert heat (infrared light) into energy. Traditionally, TPV cells have only worked with very hot sources (e.g. propane burners, the sun, etc.). These new cells we are developing are going to be useful for a much wider range of energy harvesting applications; for example, waste heat from car engines, computer chips, and home appliances. AEC is interested using TPV cells to harness energy in various environments, such as during the refining process and in oil wells.

Subcontractors on this grant include Willie Padilla, Assistant Professor in physics at Boston College and Sanjay Krishna at the Center for High Tech Materials at the University of New Mexico.