Washington University Wins Renewed Funding for Photosynthetic Research

Photosynthetic research

The Department of Energy (DOE) has notified Washington University in St Louis’  Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center(PARC) that their proposal for a second round of funding as an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) had been successful.   The award is for $3.6 million for a period of four years, for a total of $14.4 million.

In 2009, the DOE had funded the creation of 46 EFRCs to lay the scientific groundwork necessary to meet the global need for abundant, clean and economical energy.

Only about half of the 46 centers were funded in the second round, although 10 new ones were added for a total of 32 awards. Those 32 projects were selected from more than 200 proposals.

Capturing the sun’s energy output

The centers selected for the second round of funding will help lay the scientific groundwork for fundamental advances in solar energy, electrical energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, materials and chemistry by design, biosciences and extreme environments.

PARC’s goals are to understand the basic scientific principles that govern solar energy collection by photosynthetic organisms and to use this knowledge to fabricate more efficient biohybrid and bio-inspired systems to drive chemical processes or generate photocurrent.

Natural photosynthetic systems consist of two parts: antennas that collect solar photons and reaction centers that transform the easily dissipated light energy into the more durable form of charge separation that can then be used to do work.

The scientists are broadening their goals for PARC 2. PARC 1’s goal was to increase the efficiency of light harvesting antennas. In PARC 2, the scientists will continue their work on the antennas but will also start looking at energy delivery at the reaction center interface and reaction center design.

“It’s really gratifying to see the high level of support that DOE has provided for solar-related research,” said Jonathan Lindsey, a PARC principal investigator from North Carolina State University.

“Young students coming into my laboratory are very excited and motivated by the chance to make a real contribution to something that they see as being a very important part of their lives and their own children’s lives,” said Christopher Moser, a PARC principal investigator from the University of Pennsylvania.

Washington University is the host and administrative center for PARC, whose partners include investigators from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, North Carolina State University, Northwestern University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, University of California-Riverside, University of Glasgow, University of New Mexico, University of Pennsylvania, University of Sheffield in England, Princeton University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Penn State.

Source: Washington University

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.