Highlight all of ASU's renewable energy research.

ASU engineers poised for progress in solar power quest

May 6, 2011

Fulfilling the promise of solar energy as a robust large-scale alternative power source requires overcoming a variety of challenges.

Beyond the technological aspects, there are economic, regulatory, manufacturing, public policy and public utility issues to deal with. Download Full Image

In its research and education endeavors, Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering are delving into each facet of the quest to bring solar power to the forefront of the nation’s energy arsenal.

On the technical side, ASU’s engineers are working on advances in solar power generation at every level from the atomic scale to the industrial scale – from the use of nanoparticles to the design and operation of large power plants.

They’re also educating ASU students to become the future entrepreneurs and business leaders prepared to successfully commercialize new energy technologies, and the policy experts who can pave the way for effective implementation of alternative energy systems.

They’re partnering with industry and business interests to develop the solar energy workforce and laying groundwork for the infrastructure necessary to deliver solar power to the public.

Fundamental photovoltaics

Efficiency is the big technical challenge in solar research. It’s all about developing technologies to get the most energy out of sunlight.

The other big overall challenge is economics – getting the costs of producing and distributing power generated from sunlight down to a feasible level of affordability for widespread use.

Photovoltaic technologies are currently capable of converting roughly 20 percent to 40 percent of the energy in sunlight into electrical energy. Some experts think it’s possible to eventually increase that to close to 80 percent.

Pursuit of that goal includes rigorous study of fundamental physics. Electrical engineering professor Marco Saraniti works on predicting the performance of various kinds of photovoltaic cells based on understanding the physical properties and behaviors of the materials used to make the cells.

“If you follow what physics can reveal,” he says, “you get the recipes for how to put these materials together to achieve the most efficient operation” of solar power devices.

Materials science and engineering professor Mark van Schilfgaarde is looking at it from the most microscopic viewpoint. He’s studying “the fundamental physics and quantum mechanics that determine the properties of materials.”

His aim is to understand at the molecular level precisely how sunlight is converted in electrical energy. The answer can provide a basic theory of solar power generation, van Schilfgaarde says.

Such core knowledge “can help industry tremendously because it can make solar power experimentation less hit and miss. It tells you what kinds of things will work, how materials will perform and how to fix problems” with solar cells and solar energy systems, he says.

Mixing and matching materials

Saraniti’s and Van Schilfgaarde’s work is helpful to colleagues experimenting with various combinations of materials for constructing more efficient photovoltaic cells. Cells made with silicon, gallium, arsenide, zinc, germanium and magnesium are being tested, along with cells containing aluminum, indium, phosphorous and iron sulfite, cadmium and tellurium.

Materials engineering professor Nathan Newman is teaming with van Schilfgaarde and ASU chemistry professor Peter Buseck to seek ways to produce efficient photovoltaic devices using materials that are abundant in nature. This would enable the devices to be made inexpensively – a critical advance that’s needed to make it economically feasible to ramp up manufacturing of solar power technology for widespread public use.

Electrical engineering professors Yong-Hang Zhang and Cun-Zheng Ning are seeking to discover combinations of materials that will enable cells to better absorb more of the solar light spectrum, so that more energy from sunlight is provided for conversion into electrical power.

Ning is building solar cells arranged in parallel in a lateral direction using semiconductor nanowires. Zhang is stacking different materials one on top of another. They both are looking for ways to achieve power conversion efficiency beyond the current limit of about 40 percent.

Electrical engineering professor Dieter Schroder has led research to improve efficiency in  solar energy conversion by finding ways to eliminate defects and impurities in materials used for solar cells.

Enhancing performance

Other researchers are experimenting with methods other than the use of photovoltaics to capture and convert solar energy. Mechanical engineering professors Patrick Phelan and Ron Adrian, and adjunct faculty member Ravi Prasher, are testing ideas for a solar thermal collector. It would generate power by concentrating sunlight into a liquid containing silver and graphite nanoparticles that can absorb solar energy more efficiently.

In this process the liquid would be heated sufficiently “to create a direct steam-generation solar system,” Phelan explains. With the use of large steam turbines, the technology could be the basis for a new kind of solar power plant.

Phelan is also working with utility companies and entrepreneurs on developing an air-conditioning system utilizing an engine that runs on a combination of heat generated by solar power and natural gas.

In addition to the task of improving the efficiency of systems for concentrating, collecting and converting solar energy, another major hurdle for renewable energy sources is finding ways to store adequate amounts of power for later use.

Progress on the energy-storage front could be aided by materials science and engineering professor Karl Sieradzki and associate professor Cody Friesen, who are collaborating with ASU chemistry professor Dan Buttry on new battery technologies that promise significant advances for electric vehicles.

Electrical engineering professors Andreas Spanias and George Maracas, and associate professor Cihan Tepedelenlioglu, are trying to provide industry and researchers with accurate measurement of the effectiveness and health of photovoltaic systems.

They’re using advanced sensor and signal-processing technology to devise systems to analyze how solar technology performs under a variety of situations, especially changing atmospheric and weather conditions.

Range of expertise

All of this material, electrical and mechanical engineering research is aiding pursuits in ASU’s Solar Power Lab to develop prototypes for the next generations of high-efficiency photovoltaic technologies.

Electrical engineering professors Stephen Goodnick and Christiana Honsberg, with associate research professor Stuart Bowden, are leading the Solar Power Lab’s efforts to design and model photovoltaic systems that can be manufactured using simpler processes and less material – producing sufficient power at a low cost per kilowatt hour of energy production.

“One of ASU’s strength is the range of expertise we have in energy-related engineering, particularly in photovoltaics and areas that can contribute to solar technology advances,” Goodnick says. “We have a team of some of the best solar energy researchers in the country.”

That expertise has helped ASU earn support for its energy research from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and Science Foundation Arizona, the Electric Power Research Institute and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council.

It has also attracted industry support and research partnerships with businesses such as Boeing’s Spectrolab, General Electric, Viasol, Suntech, Samsung, Ganotec, Concentrix and Emcore, as well as the Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power utility companies, among others.

Developing the ‘smart grid’

ASU is also a partner in a multi-university project supported by the National Science Foundation that is exploring ways of reliably and economically integrating alternative energy sources – such  as wind and solar – into the nation’s existing regional power grids.

Researchers are helping design a “smart grid” to provide a network for managing and delivering power generated from renewable energy sources, says electrical engineering professor Gerald Heydt, who leads ASU’s team for the project.

Engineering professor Vijay Vittal and associate professor Raja Ayyanar are involved with Heydt in developing AzSMART, an analysis system being designed to evaluate the impacts of introducing significant solar power generation in Arizona.

Working with the University of Arizona, and industry and government partners, ASU researchers are examining the electric grid technologies that would be required to develop a solar-power infrastructure in the state.

The effort includes evaluating the economic, financial and environmental impacts of solar power generation and distribution on consumers, utilities and other users, assessing suitable locations for large solar-power plants – and the technical requirements of linking the plants to existing energy grids – and consideration of policies to address energy-system security.

Vittal, Ayyanar and Heydt are working with Arizona Public Service company, General Electric, the Department of Energy, ViaSol energy company and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to study the impact of solar photovoltaics on power distribution systems, and developing new control and protection methods to ensure reliability and power quality of such systems.

Improving critical components

In a related effort, Ayyanar is working on advances in power electronic inverters, a key component of photovoltaic systems.

He explains: “The capability of the inverter is critical whether it is a small roof-top residential system or a multi-megawatt utility scale solar power plant.  The reliability and performance in terms of energy generated and power quality are critically affected by the inverter performance.  We are researching new power electronic topologies and control methods to enhance the performance of solar inverters, developing models and aiding the development of new quality standards for inverters.”

The strength of ASU’s work in this area is one of the major reasons that Power One, a large inverter manufacturer, has opened facilities in Arizona, Ayyanar says. 

Electrical engineering professor George Karady is helping lead research on microgrids, which involve re-engineering infrastructure so that it can effectively distribute power from renewable energy sources to cities, towns and neighborhoods.

He’s exploring not only the technical solutions to developing efficient microgrid systems, but ways to make them economically feasible and ensure their reliability and security.

Steven Trimble, an engineering professor of practice, has decades of industry experience in energy system design and technical management of the development of large-scale solar systems. His current research involves development of a combined solar energy generation and energy storage system that could help make smart grids and microgrids more economical to operate.

Preparing future solar leaders

Nearly all knowledge gleaned from discoveries in ASU’s solar power engineering research finds its way to students as new information is incorporated into course subjects, and numerous students are getting valuable hands-on experience by assisting research teams led by engineering faculty members.

In the spring 2011 semester a small group of students was the first to begin studies in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering’s new master’s degree program focusing on solar energy.

The Professional Science Masters in Solar Energy Engineering and Commercialization encompasses studies in the technological, economic, business and public policy aspects of the solar power field.

It offers much more than classroom instruction, says professor Phelan, who developed and directs the program. Students will be working on projects with companies in the energy and power industry, and visiting the nation’s capitol to get a firsthand look at governmental processes involved in development and deployment of new technologies and energy systems.

The degree program “will establish strong ties to industry, and stress entrepreneurship,” Phelan says. “When they graduate, students will be well connected in the field and prepared to make a contribution.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU In the News

Small particles may produce big solar-power harvest

<p>Could nanotechnology provide a key to more effectively harnessing the power of the sun? &nbsp;</p><p>Arizona State University engineers are conducting promising experiments in using graphite nanoparticles mixed with a mineral oil to produce a more efficient transfer of solar heat into electrical energy.</p><p>Details are given in an interview on a solar power industry news website with Patrick Phelan, a professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and engineering doctoral student Rob Taylor.</p>

Article Source: CSP Today
Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


$5.5M grant helps map new trajectory for energy system grid

April 22, 2011

The Power Systems Energy Research Center (PSERC) has been awarded a $5.5 million grant from the Department of Energy to investigate requirements for a systematic transformation of today’s electric grid.

The future grid needs to support high penetrations of highly variable distributed energy resources mixed with large central generation sources, energy storage, and responsive users equipped with embedded intelligence and automation. These sustainable energy systems require more than improvements to the existing system; they require transformative changes in planning and operating electric power systems. Download Full Image

Vijay Vittal, director of PSERC and Ira A. Fulton Chair in Electrical Engineering at Arizona State University, is leading a multidisciplinary, multi-university team to investigate these challenges and to seek solutions to achieve the needed transformation.

“The effective transformation of the grid will require identification and solution of major operating, planning, workforce and economic challenges,” says Vittal. “Changes are already occurring to enable sustainable systems, particularly with the growing introduction of smart grid technologies. Research is still needed to make it possible to achieve much higher penetrations of wind, solar and other distributed generation resources economically, efficiently and reliably.”

To date, the energy system architecture has been a hierarchically-connected network with tightly synchronized energy resources. The envisioned system is going to be very different. It will be more complex, heterogeneous and dynamic. The operating environment will be more uncertain due in part to the variability of renewable energy production, to diverse and distributed operating objectives, and to greater reliance on customer responsiveness to maintain power system reliability.

PSERC will be investigating innovations in network architectures; planning approaches; operation, control and protection paradigms; computational and analysis challenges; carbon policy implications; customer response programs; and resilient cyber-physical systems. For example, tight synchronicity and balancing constraints may be relaxed through an architecture based on autonomous local energy clusters and microgrids that localize the quality standards.

The future grid will also rely on an IT infrastructure with underlying communications networks that will enable the physical network to closely interact and support the performance objectives of sustainable energy systems. Regional differences in energy resources and the legacy electric power grid will affect requirements for the future grid.

“We are leveraging existing digital technologies that can enable effective end-to-end adaptation of renewable resources into the electric grid system,” says Vittal. “PSERC researchers will use their knowledge of today’s operating and planning paradigms for electric power grids, as well as their knowledge of the technologies, and market systems, as the starting point for introducing new paradigms and transition strategies from today’s systems.”

PSERC will also develop educational resources to ensure that the existing and future power and energy engineering workforce can enable a high penetration of sustainable energy systems by envisioning the requirements of the future energy system; and designing, planning, manufacturing, building and operating the diverse energy systems.

PSERC expertise incorporates three major research stems critical to planning the transformation of the grid system: power systems, electricity markets, and transmission and distribution technologies. PSERC university partners have a long-standing history in power system research and education. They are located around the country: Arizona State, Carnegie Mellon, Colorado School of Mines, Cornell, Georgia Institute of Technology, Howard University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Washington State, Wichita State, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

PSERC was founded in 1996 and is currently supported by 36 industry and government partners.

More information about PSERC can be found at the http://www.pserc.org ">center’s website.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Solutions for 'culture crashes' in algal production sought

April 19, 2011

Algae can seem quite stubborn and hardy when trying to rid them from your pool, but when it comes to mass producing algal feedstock to be used in the conversion to biofuel, more things can happen to destroy this type of crop than most realize.

Of many culprit organisms that may result in the deterioration of algal culture performance and biomass yield, grazing zooplankton, or so called predators, often are responsible for frequent culture ‘crashes’ and loss of productivity altogether. Except for a few algal strains that can tolerate extreme growing environments that are deterrents to many contaminants, the hazard of predator contamination is so great that sustainable cultivation of many algal crops of economic interest – in particular, oil-producing algal strains on a large scale – has not been possible. Download Full Image

However, with a recent five-year $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Arizona State University scientist Qiang Hu and his research team are studying the factors involved with algal crop failure.

Hu, a professor in the College of Technology and Innovation and co-director of the Arizona Center for Algal Technology and Innovation (AzCATI)/Laboratory for Algae Research and Biotechnology (LARB), explains that the cost of crop failures could be in the multimillions of dollars to this emerging green industry if devastating grazing zooplankton have their way.

Zooplankton are microscopic animals that often are identified as amoebas, protozoans, ciliates and rotifers. All are predators on microscopic algae, which represent the base of the aquatic food chain.

“Without a detailed understanding of the factors influencing the occurrence, population dynamics, impact and control of zooplankton, it could potentially prevent algae from being a practical source of oil crops for production of bioenergy and bioproducts,” Hu said.  

To study the zooplankton, Hu and his team will survey zooplankton contamination in commercial algal production systems, as well as in their own algae testbed facilities at ASU Polytechnic campus, where a number of production strains are cultivated in various types of culture systems all year round. Simultaneously, they will determine living and non-living influencers on zooplankton, aiming at developing an empirical model for assessment and prediction of potential impact of zooplankton contamination on overall algal culture stability and biomass production potential.

By introducing state-of-the-art bio-imaging and DNA fingerprinting techniques, they will develop a rapid, sensitive monitoring and an early warning system. In parallel, they will evaluate several innovative control measures, and ultimately develop a Best Management Practices Plan (BMPP) for prevention and treatment.  

“The comprehensive BMPP will be the key to achieve sustainable production of algal feedstock, and thus enable successful commercialization of algae-based biofuels and bioproducts,” Hu said.

“Results from the research plan to be shared widely with the biotechnology community and the algal biofuels industry, through publications and conference presentations, as well as workshops and training courses provided by LARB and AzCATI,” said Milton Sommerfeld, professor and co-director of LARB and AzCATI.  

Media Contact:
Christine Lambrakis, lambrakis">mailto:lambrakis@asu.edu">lambrakis@asu.edu
(480) 727-1173, (602) 316-5616">mailto:lambrakis@asu.edu">

Work of Regents' Professor Tom Moore is energy-focused

March 1, 2011

This article is part of a http://asunews.asu.edu/20110120_outstandingprofs" target="_blank">series that looks at ASU's 2010 Regents' Professors and President's Professors.

Tom Moore is a rock star among scientists. One of the most highly cited international chemists, Moore’s 2001 paper, “Mimicking Photosynthetic Solar Energy Transduction,” co-authored with fellow professors Ana Moore and Devens Gust, helped set the stage for today’s research seeking innovative approaches to alternative energy. Download Full Image

While his colleagues describe him as “pioneering” and “legendary,” when you meet Moore his soft-spoken nature belies a man with little ego. He talks about his career as a series of unfolding events ignited by his own innate curiosity.

Moore came to ASU in 1976 from the University of Washington with his wife Ana, who he met in graduate school. Trained as a photobiologist – he focuses on the scientific study of the interactions of light and living organisms – Moore’s work dovetailed nicely with his wife’s, whose specialty is organic chemistry.

“Photosynthesis, the process that converts energy in sunlight to chemical forms of energy that can be used by biological organisms, powers the biosphere,” Moore says. “How do we take what nature does and improve upon it to meet human energy demands? The need for an alternative to fossil fuel as our primary source of energy is paramount. Reserves are limited, perhaps more than we realize, and they are polluting our planet and contributing to global warming.”

Shortly after arriving at ASU, the two Moores met Devens Gust and the three established a successful research partnership that focuses on biomimetic photosynthesis – best explained as the chemical mimicry of biological photosynthesis. By the mid-80s, their work was attracting millions in grant support and attention among international scientists seeking to develop alternative fuel sources derived from the sun.

Over the years, Moore, a fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his colleagues have published more than 230 papers that have been cited more than 10,000 times by other scientists – an important indicator, says William Petuskey, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, “of the strong influence of his work.”

When not in the lab, Moore is a dedicated teacher and mentor of both undergraduate and graduate students, having guided 20 doctoral students in chemistry over his career. It’s a role he takes great pride in.

Interest in alternative energy is at an all-time high among his graduate students, he says. While most undergraduates may be more focused on the present and their more immediate future, Moore relishes the challenge of helping them to become more critical thinkers. It’s imperative, he says, in a democracy.

“Policy is determined by the democratic process, which needs good information. It’s the university’s job to get that information out there,” Moore says. “The Internet has changed the ballgame in that information is everywhere. When I went to school, you learned things from a textbook or from peer-reviewed articles – sources that in most cases you could at least start by assuming were not going to be misleading. Today, it’s a big job to know whether information taken from the net is even right, not to mention whether stuff is important and what it means. Critical thinking was always a key to good science; today it is the crucial skill in processing information.”

Moore says, for example, he gets frustrated over the debate about whether burning fossil fuels is actually contributing to the warming of the planet.

“There is no doubt in the science. CO2 levels are going up and it is very straightforward – the increase is related to the burning of fossil fuels,” he says. “CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the Earth will warm, and it is warming. The questions are, ‘how much?’ and ‘what will it mean?’ The impact will be different in different areas and certainly developing countries will be most negatively affected.”

Moore, who says he “thinks about energy all the time,” says the drive to find a clean, renewable energy source should not be based solely on economics – although he’s a realist and knows that the cost-effectiveness of energy to power gross domestic product growth drives many decisions.

“Coal, oil and natural gas grow the GDP – let’s face it, the growth in our pension funds relies on a profitable Exxon Mobile,” he says. “We can minimize our dependence on foreign oil, but we have fossil fuel reserves right here in North America, including the very profitable but environmentally disastrous syncrude from Canada. If we don’t care about CO2, climate change or the consequences on the developing world, then finding an alternative energy solution in our lifetime may be unlikely.”

Yet Moore prefers to be optimistic, and that’s why he keeps working tirelessly to unlock the key to the sun’s energy creating power.

“When fluorocarbons were banned, it was not a huge change for people because there were alternatives,” he says. “If we do our job right, our research will have provided an alternative. Whatever causes us to wake up, we will be ready.”

Scientists identify new implications of perennial bioenergy crops

March 1, 2011

Research shows a conversion from annual to perennial bioenergy crops has broader implications beyond just the impacts on carbon

A team of researchers from Arizona State University, Stanford University and Carnegie Institution for Science has found that converting large swaths of land to bioenergy crops could have a wide range of effects on regional climate. Download Full Image

In an effort to help wean itself off fossil fuels, the United States has mandated significant increases in renewable fuels, with more than one-third of the domestic corn harvest to be used for conversion to ethanol by 2018. But concerns about effects of corn ethanol on food prices and deforestation had led to research suggesting that ethanol be derived from perennial crops, such as the giant grasses Miscanthus and switchgrass. Nearly all of this research, though, has focused on the effects of ethanol on carbon dioxide emissions, which drive global warming.

“Almost all of the work performed to date has focused on the carbon effects,” said Matei Georgescu, a climate modeler working in ASU’s Center for Environmental Fluid Dynamics. “We’ve tried to expand our perspective to look at a more complete picture. What we’ve shown is that it’s not all about greenhouse gases, and that modifying the landscape can be just as important.”

Georgescu and his colleagues report their findings in the early online Feb. 28 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Co-authors are David Lobell of Stanford University and Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science, both located in Stanford, Calif.

In their study, the researchers simulated an entire growing season with a state-of-the-art regional climate model. They ran two sets of experiments – one with an annual crop representation over the central United States and one with an extended growing season to represent perennial grasses. In the model, the perennial plants pumped more water from the soil to the atmosphere, leading to large local cooling. 

“We’ve shown that planting perennial bioenergy crops can lower surface temperatures by about a degree Celsius locally, averaged over the entire growing season," Lobell said. "That’s a pretty big effect, enough to dominate any effects of carbon savings on the regional climate.” 

The primary physical process at work is based on greater evapotranspiration (combination of evaporated water from the soil surface and plant canopy and transpired water from within the soil) for perennial crops compared to annual crops. 

“More study is needed to understand the long-term implication for regional water balance," Georgescu said. "This study focused on temperature, but the more general point is that simply assessing the impacts on carbon and greenhouse gases overlooks important features that we cannot ignore if we want a bioenergy path that is sustainable over the long haul.”

Matei Georgescu, (480) 965-3770; Matei.Georgescu">mailto:Matei.Georgescu@asu.edu">Matei.Georgescu@asu.edu
David Lobell, (650) 721-6207; dlobell">mailto:dlobell@stanford.edu">dlobell@stanford.edu
Chris Field (650) 223-690, cfield">mailto:cfield@ciw.edu">cfield@ciw.edu

Media contact:
Skip Derra, Skip.Derra">mailto:Skip.Derra@asu.edu">Skip.Derra@asu.edu
(480) 965-4823

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


ASU In the News

Experts: Algae fuels could become available in 15 years

<p>The Arizona climate is ideal for farming algae – a potential resource in producing renewable fuels. While commercial-scale algae production could become viable within five years to 10 years, Bruce Rittman, director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at ASU, says that the infrastructure needed for such an operation is about 15 years to 20 years away.</p><p>Rittman added that once the nation is ready for algae as biofuel, Arizona is positioned well to reap the benefits.</p>

Article Source: Cronkite News
Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

Angell recognized for pioneering work in ionic liquids

February 1, 2011

The American Electrochemical Society honored C. Austen Angell, an ASU Regents' professor of chemistry and biochemistry, with the Max Bredig award for his pioneering work on ionic liquids. The award recognizes Angell’s years of innovation in the field of molten salts and ionic liquids chemistry.

Angell was presented with the Bredig award on Oct. 13, at an awards banquet during the Electrochemical Society’s 218th meeting in Las Vegas. Download Full Image

The Electrochemical Society is the fourth professional society in the U.S. to recognize Angell’s work with one of its internationally contested awards. He won the Materials Research Society’s David Turnbull award in 2007 and the American Chemical Society’s Joel Henry Hildebrand award in 2004. The American Ceramic Society (Glass Division) was the first with its George Morey award in 1990, the year after Angell joined ASU.

Molten salts and ionic liquids are actually the same thing but at different temperatures. They are exotic liquids in which every particle carries an electric charge – like table salt, except they flow like water – even at room temperature in the case of “ionic liquids.”

Molten salts are great carriers of electric current, as needed in batteries. If General Electric Company succeeds in its ambitions, molten salts will be central to immense electric power storage facilities of the future in which excess grid energy will be used to convert sodium in the molten salt, quickly and temporarily, to metallic sodium. Such systems are urgently needed to “load-balance” sustainable, but erratic, renewable energy sources and better serve industrial society. The molten salt in the GE system is NaAlCl4, obtained by combining table salt with the chloride of aluminum, AlCl3. NaAlCl4 is a liquid at temperatures above 157 C (315 F).

Angell is best known for his studies on glass-forming liquids and super-cooled water. Working with colleague Jeff Yarger two years ago, he reported in Nature the first successful vitrification (turn into glass-like substance) of a pure metal. Then in a recent paper in Nature Physics (Nov. 28), he and other colleagues showed how the paradoxical behavior of an iron-cobalt alloy could be used to help understand how all these very different glass-formers might relate to one another.

“I’ve truly enjoyed working with my colleagues to delve into these materials and chronicle their exotic behaviors,” Angell said. “It helps, being part of one of the top-five high-impact research chemistry departments in the country.”

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


ASU In the News

As solar industry expands, increasing need for skills

<p>In a paper called "A solar economy in the American Southwest: Critical next steps," ASU professors Martin J. Pasqualetti and Susan Haag examine what is needed in order to advance Arizona's solar industry, with a focus on education. <br /><br />They "surveyed 76 companies operating here that are looking to hire new employees and published his findings in the February edition of the scientific journal <em>Energy Policy</em>" and found that 68 percent of the respondents "said they would hire a job candidate with a bachelor's degree in engineering with a solar-content area, while just 32 percent said they would hire people with master's degrees in the same field."</p><p>"The solar industry is not yet mature enough to be overly-welcoming to those who hold a narrow range of knowledge and abilities," Pasqualetti and Haag wrote. "As the industry expands, there will be increasing need for focused skills . . . but for now the solar market is small enough that employees must be able to integrate knowledge about several aspects of the business."</p>

Article Source: Arizona Republic
Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

Work of ASU professors brings solar panels to Chino Valley

December 23, 2010

Chino Valley Mayor Jim Bunker recognized Arizona State University professors Govindasamy “Mani” Tamizhmani and James Subach with Notices of Commendation at a Town Hall meeting in November for their contribution to the town’s acquisition of solar panels. Both are professors in the College of Technology and Innovation at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

Tamizhmani is president of the TUV Rheinland Photovoltaic Testing Laboratory (TUV-PTL), a joint venture formed between the ASU PTL and TUV Rheinland of North America to produce one of the best solar test and certification facilities in the world.

Tamizhmani has been conducting research related to solar photovoltaics, fuel cells and batteries, with a focus on the performance and reliability of commercial solar photovoltaic modules, for the past 26 years. He was recently named a “Green Pioneer” by the Phoenix Business Journal for his leading role in solar technology and testing.

Subach, a professor of practice in the Department of Engineering Technology, has owned his own business consulting firm for more than 25 years. His research interests are centered on business agility and the advancement of industry models for alternative energy enterprises.

The commendation from the Town of Chino Valley recognized the solar panel donation program Tamizhmani initiated while director of ASU’s PTL and which the TUV-PTL continues to practice. The town of Chino Valley is one of the latest to benefit from it.

Numerous groups and organizations throughout Arizona have received solar panel donations from TUV-PTL, including the Arizona Department of Commerce, the Prescott Valley Police Department, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Mesa Community College, Northern Arizona University and Mesa Public Schools.

Subach has a longstanding history with the TUV-PTL and is knowledgeable about the solar panel donation program application process. He helped officials of Chino Valley apply to the program. The Town of Chino Valley presented him with an unexpected separate commendation for his help in getting the panels and for his continuing work as liaison between the town and TUV-PTL.

Of his commendation Subach says, “I was both surprised and pleased to receive the commendation, particularly because the donations are going to projects that provide both visibility for the use of solar energy in the Town of Chino Valley as well as providing power for an ongoing project that is related to water sustainability.”

Chino Valley will receive more than 50 solar panels from TUV-PTL, which it plans to install at the town’s water reclamation facility.

“Because of the donation, the town is now considering a long-term plan to install additional solar panels to power the entire plant,” says Subach.

In addition to helping the town on its path toward use of renewable energy, the donation will benefit students from Yavapai College. The students, some of which are interested in pursuing careers in renewable energy, will help with portions of the panel installation.

Subach is pleased with the positive effects of the donation. “I am delighted with the results of the panel donations thus far and with the long-range plans that they are helping to initiate and support.”

For information about the donation program, contact Tamizhmani at gtamizhmani">mailto:gtamizhmani@tuvptl.com">gtamizhmani@tuvptl.com.

Written by Tana Ingram Download Full Image

Media Contact(s):
Christine Lambrakis, 480/727-1173, 602/316-5616, lambrakis">mailto:lambrakis@asu.edu">lambrakis@asu.edu