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Project iLASER is an endeavor to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry, supported by a generous grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (grant no. CHE 1118663).

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Project iLASER is Recommended for Funding!

The sun is shining and exciting times lie ahead!  Official notification has recently come from Dr. Kathy Covert, Program Director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemistry, that Project iLASER has been recommended for funding.

Project iLASER (investigations with Light And Sustainable Energy Resources) was conceived as a means to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC), as proclaimed by the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations in 2008.  NSF's Division of Chemistry and Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) have provided a mechanism of support for projects to celebrate IYC. 

In brief summary, Project iLASER will be carried out along the entire length of the US-Mexico international border and will provide elementary school children (primarily ages 10-12 years old) with opportunities to engage in hands-on activities with sustainable energy devices and materials (e.g., silicon-based photovoltaic panels, dye-sensitized solar cells and hydrogen fuel cells).  Event venues include Boys & Girls Clubs, after-school programs in elementary schools and museums.

The project will commence at the Pacific Ocean terminus of the US-Mexico border, in Chula Vista, CA and will span the border across to Harlingen, TX at the Gulf of Mexico.  Planned stops between the two end points include: El Centro, CA; Yuma, AZ; Nogales, AZ; Las Cruces, NM; El Paso, TX; McAllen, TX.

The cities along the Project iLASER route: (A) Chula Vista, CA; (B) El Centro, CA; (C) Yuma, AZ; (D) Nogales, AZ; (E) Las Cruces, NM; (F) El Paso, TX; (G) McAllen, TX; (H) Harlingen, TX

The project will also communicate research efforts on the part of scientists from the Powering the Planet Center for Chemical Innovation (CCI Solar), also supported by the NSF at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), one of the Project iLASER partners.  The essence of the work undertaken through CCI Solar is to discover materials and develop devices to reduce the expense of producing solar fuel (e.g, hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water), thereby making it possible to power the planet with clean, sustainable energy sources at a cost competitive with that of petroleum and other fossil fuels. 

This is a very happy first blog post for me, and I couldn't be more excited about the upcoming adventures in spreading the good news of using the energy from the sun to power our planet.  Stay tuned for more...