Valparaiso University Receives $2.3-Million For Solar Research

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September 23, 2013 — Valparaiso University is getting $2.3-million dollars to fund solar research through a proposal from its College of Engineering, for the Modern Electro-Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems project.  Valparaiso University is receiving a $2.3-million cooperative agreement from the United States Department of Energy to fund solar research.

Dean of the College of Engineering Eric Johnson says, “I think it’s important for a number of reasons, for the University and for the college it shows focus on undergraduate research and how we can tie that back to teaching. Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Scott Duncan says,”We’re using the money to research the production of a very light metal, and that metal can be used in lots of different applications to make things lighter.”

The University says its engineers and scientists are working on a project that uses solar energy to produce magnesium, a lighter metal that can be used for products such as cars. Duncan says, “Our goal is to replace energy from fossil fuels with energy from the sun because it’s a renewable source and it’s a very clean source of energy.”

Mechanical engineering student, Jesse Fosheim says, “Our goal for the future is that you’ll be driving your car and your car will be made out of metal that was produced for sunlight, it will be running on fuel that was produced by sunlight, and it will have no harmful effects on the environment.”

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy will disperse the funding over a three-year period.  The Engineering College says it will use some of the money for development efforts and managing research.  Johnson says, “From my point of view, it’s very transformational here when you think about it, you know, we are using sunlight a transforming that into energy.”

Duncan says, “They are able to take what they do in the classroom and apply it to real world problems that can make a huge difference in peoples’ lives.  The Valparaiso University is on the cutting edge of advancing light metal and how industries use metal.”


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