TUCSON- A company founded by a University of Arizona professor has received a $1 million grant from the Department of Energy to fund a solar technology program.
The grant was awarded to REhnu Inc., a spin-off company founded by UA optics professor Roger Angel, who is also the director of the UA's Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory. REhnu's goal is to commercialize the system from successful prototype to production-ready form.
Unlike conventional photovoltaic collection methods, REhnu's system collects sunlight with large mirrors and focuses the concentrated light onto a small patch of high-efficiency photovoltaic cells.
"From the outset, our goal has been to develop solar energy technologies that would be cost-competitive with fossil-fuel generation without requiring subsidies," said Angel, inventor of the concept and founder of REhnu. "This DOE award recognizes the potential of REhnu's approach and will provide an enormous boost to commercializing this disruptive technology."
Angel's concept is born out of his expertise making the world's largest telescope mirrors, according to a UA news release. REhnu holds an exclusive license from the UA to commercialize the fabrication of cheap but effective dishes capable of effectively harvesting sunlight, a method protected by three UA-held patents.
Peter Strittmatter, REhnu's secretary, said: "The prototype we have developed at the UA has been working exceedingly well and now shows great promise for producing electricity at costs competitive with fossil fuels."
More information about high-concentration solar technology developed at the UA: http://uanews.org/story/making-mirrors-sun
REhnu, Inc.: http://www.rehnu.com
Pictured: Unlike other thermo-solar technologies, REhnu's concept uses no water and has a much smaller footprint, making it a truly sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. (Artist's conception: REhnu, Inc.)