Tulane gets grant to help store solar power

A professor at Tulane University has received a $3.3 million grant along with two California companies to develop technology capable of storing solar energy for use at any time of the day.

The three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy is part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy FOCUS program. The grant will go toward completing a new hybrid solar energy converter, which could improve the environment as well as national and economic security, according to the school.

Matthew Escarra, an assistant professor of engineering physics at Tulane, is working on the project with the two California companies, Otherlab of San Francisco and Boeing-Spectrolab of Los Angeles. The scientists are being given three years to finish the project.

“The vast majority of solar energy conversion to electricity that is going on in the world today is intermittent, meaning that solar panels only generate electricity when the sun is shining, and output is proportional to the amount of sunlight reaching the panel,” Escarra said. His project will use a thermal receiver to capture, store and dispatch that solar energy. “We can dispatch this stored energy whenever a cloud passes by, or even just when electricity prices rise, providing more solar energy when demand is the highest,” he said.

Escarra said the team plans to have a prototype ready for testing by 2017.

Slavery museum developers to speak

A Loyola University alumnus who opened the first museum dedicated solely to the history of slavery in the United States will give a free lecture April 29 at Loyola.

John Cummings, a retired trial lawyer, developer and owner of the Whitney Plantation Museum in Wallace, will speak about his vision for the museum. He will be joined by Ibrahima Seck, the museum’s director of research.

Cummings and Seck will discuss the plantation’s role in Louisiana history and the challenges of bringing the museum to reality.

Located an hour west of New Orleans, the Whitney Plantation encompasses 250 acres of land and once was the home of the Haydel family, one of the largest slaveholders in the state. The museum consists of exhibits, memorial artwork and hundreds of first-person slave narratives.

Cummings purchased several of the museum’s historical buildings and artifacts in order to make it a reality.

The lecture is slated for 7 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium.

UNO’s Model U.N. delegation wins award

The University of New Orleans Model United Nations delegation won an honorable mention award this month at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York City, marking the fifth consecutive year that UNO has earned an award at the annual competition.

The delegation represented Nepal in this year’s conference, which took place from March 29 to April 3.

The Model U.N. annually brings together nearly 5,000 students from around the globe. They spend a week simulating the responsibilities of actual U.N. delegates, including caucusing, writing resolutions and negotiating for votes.

UNO’s 2015 delegation included students from the United States, Nepal, Mexico, Iran, Brazil, Ireland, France, Egypt, Honduras, Moldova and Venezuela.

This is the sixth year that UNO has been selected to compete at the conference. Previously, the school represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Honduras, Austria, Vietnam and Syria.