This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 17, 2003

NIST Awards $24 Million for Fuel Cells, Energy Efficiency, and Solar Power

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced 44 new awards through its Advanced Technology Program on September 15th. Among the new awards, eight will go toward advancing fuel cell, solar power, and energy efficiency technologies. Those eight projects comprise a total investment of nearly $51 million, including nearly $24 million in NIST funds.

Four of the projects will focus on fuel cell technologies, including a high-volume manufacturing process for proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells, a miniature direct-methanol fuel cell, a low-cost process for manufacturing gas diffusion layers, and a variety of approaches to reduce the cost of power from fuel cells. In addition, Astronautics Corporation of America will design, build, and test an energy-efficient refrigerator that uses a magnetic refrigerant; General Electric Company and Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. will advance their roll-to-roll technology for manufacturing solid-state lighting devices; and the Ohio Aerospace Institute will lead a joint venture to develop enhanced thin-film capacitors for use in electric vehicles and in power converters for fuel cells. Finally, AstroPower, Inc. will lead a joint venture to produce low-cost, high-purity silicon for use in the solar power industry. See the NIST press release.

The award is certainly good news for AstroPower, which continues to struggle financially after its July delisting from the NASDAQ stock exchange. In early August, AstroPower laid off 55 employees, reducing its workforce by about 10 percent. See the AstroPower press release.