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Solar Energy Researcher in a lab

CHASE researchers will investigate the conversion of sunlight to storable liquid fuels. (photo by Donn Young.)

U.S. Department of Energy funds solar energy research

The U.S. Department of Energy will provide $100 million in funding to new artificial photosynthesis research projects, including a $40 million award to the North Carolina-based Center for Hybrid Approaches in Solar Energy to Liquid Fuels (CHASE) to accelerate fundamental research of the production of fuels from sunlight.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill leads the CHASE partnership, which will work to develop hybrid photoelectrodes for fuel production that combine semiconductors for light absorption with molecular catalysts for conversion and fuel production.

CHASE will blend experiment with theory to understand and establish new design principles for fuels-from-sunlight systems. The CHASE group will work to evolve solar energy technology to meet the world’s increasing energy needs.

Investigators at six institutions — Brookhaven National Laboratory, Emory University, NC State University, the University of Pennsylvania, UNC–Chapel Hill and Yale University — are partners in the CHASE effort.

“We have assembled a very strong team to set brand–new directions in this field,” said Gerald Meyer, director of the CHASE Hub and professor in the chemistry department in the College of Arts & Sciences. “Our focus is to use the sun’s energy to directly generate storable liquid fuels.”