The University of Arizona

Solar Fusion 2009 Will Showcase UA Solar Energy Innovation

By Lori Stiles, University Communications | August 19, 2009

The UA invites the community to the first-ever public tours of its visionary Solar Decathlon house, talks about its major solar energy projects and first-ever performances and views of solar-inspired art.

“Solar Fusion 2009, Declination Nine Degrees 42 Minutes” takes its name from the mathematical declination of the Earth with respect to the sun on Aug. 28, 2009. Mathematically, 9 degrees/42 minutes is a calculation that guides where to build a house for optimum solar effect, for example. Declination is also a measurement of the relationship between sun and Earth which has inspired poets, writers and artists throughout time.
“Solar Fusion 2009, Declination Nine Degrees 42 Minutes” takes its name from the mathematical declination of the Earth with respect to the sun on Aug. 28, 2009. Mathematically, 9 degrees/42 minutes is a calculation that guides where to build a house for optimum solar effect, for example. Declination is also a measurement of the relationship between sun and Earth which has inspired poets, writers and artists throughout time.
Artist's concept of 'Seed[pop!], an interactive public sculpture that will be unveiled at Solar Fusion 2009 on Aug. 28. Credit: Illustration: Creative Machines, Inc. (Click to enlarge)
Artist's concept of 'Seed[pop!], an interactive public sculpture that will be unveiled at Solar Fusion 2009 on Aug. 28. Credit: Illustration: Creative Machines, Inc. (Click to enlarge)
Artist's illustration of the Solar Energy Efficient Dwelling, or SEED[pod] constructed by the UA Solar Decathlon team. (Click to enlarge)
Artist's illustration of the Solar Energy Efficient Dwelling, or SEED[pod] constructed by the UA Solar Decathlon team. (Click to enlarge)

Musicians will perform a new work in a solar-energized morning concert, poets will read original sonnets inspired by the sun and artists will unveil an interactive public sculpture that uses sunshine and mirrors to pop popcorn atop a tower at The University of Arizona on Aug. 28.

Later, UA Solar Decathlon students will give the first public tours of their unique, energy-efficient solar home before it heads to the nation's capitol this fall to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon.

The events are part of Solar Fusion 2009, sponsored by the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy, or AzRISE, to showcase solar energy innovations that faculty and students are developing at the UA. 

Solar Fusion is free and open to the public.

Activities run 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. in Crowder Hall, the Architecture Building and at the parking lot east of the Architecture Building. The buildings are just south of Speedway Boulevard and east of Park Avenue. Pay parking is available at the Park Avenue Garage, on the northeast corner of the Speedway-Park intersection.

UA President N. Robert Shelton will lead an in-depth discussion of the University's comprehensive solar agenda in the afternoon. UA scientists and engineers who lead major solar power research projects and top environmental and sustainability programs will give spotlight presentations at an afternoon poster session.  

The Solar Fusion 2009 schedule:

  • 9 a.m. Opening and music, Crowder Pavilion.  Musicians will perform "A Bright New World, or Dr. Solara and the Fossil Fools," a new work composed by Tucson Symphony violinist Michael Fan. UA Regents Professor of music and Tucson Symphony pianist Paula Fan, Michael Fan's sister, describes the work as "a musical solar fable for the young and young at heart." The Fans, and cellist Garrick Woods, will play electric instruments – all powered by the sun, in a presentation narrated by Jenny Hijazi. Southwest Strings has loaned the instruments for this project. The concert also may include some solar-powered special effects, Paula Fan said.
  • 9:40 a.m. Scene, Crowder Hall. Joseph Simmons and Ardeth Barnhart of AzRISE will set the scene for Solar Fusion 2009. President Shelton will talk on "UA and Solar Energy."
  • 10:20 a.m. Poetry, Crowder Hall. Last spring the UA Poetry Center partnered with AzRISE to sponsor a Solar Poetry Contest to celebrate UA's participation in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. The Poetry Center invited UA students and staff to submit an original sonnet about the sun in one of three categories: Shakespearean, Petrarchan, or non-traditional. Poet Alison Hawthorne Deming of UA's creative writing program served as contest judge. Contest winners Melissa Lamberton, Sarah Kortemeier, and Maureen McHugh will read their poems. University Distinguished Professor of English Susan Aiken will talk about solar energy in literature during this part of the program.
  • 11 a.m. Sculpture, Crowder Hall. Tucson green home builder and solar pioneer John Wesley Miller will introduce artists Blessing Hancock and Joe O'Connell of Creative Machines, Inc., a design-build firm in Tucson that creates interactive exhibits and spaces that encourage creativity and support positive social interaction. 
  • 11:15 a.m. Structure, Crowder Hall. Les Wallach, who founded the Tucson architectural firm Line and Space after graduating from UA more than 30 years ago, continues to win national awards for architectural projects that exemplify sustainable design and construction. Wallach will open the half-hour session on structure.  Alvaro Malo, professor and director of the UA graduate program in Emerging Material Technologies, and Dale Clifford, both principal investigators on the UA Solar Decathlon team, are speakers for this session.

The UA Solar Decathlon team is completing their Solar Energy Efficient Dwelling, or SEED, an 800-square-foot competition home designed to harvest solar energy to power a variety of home essentials, from electricity to hot water and to integrate emerging technologies based on sustainable principles into the construction of a net zero home. The UA's entry will compete with 19 other university student-built homes at the Solar Decathlon in Washingon, D.C., in October. The competition is judged on 10 different criteria: architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and net metering. The competition reflects tasks performed in the average home, which include clothes washing and drying, cooking, watching movies and dining.

  • 11:45 a.m. Lunch, Architecture Building. Solar Fusion 2009 attendees can pick up free box lunches at the T.M. Sundt Gallery.
  • Noon, Seed sculpture unveiling, parking lot east of the Architecture Building. Tucson artists Blessing Hancock and Joe O'Connell of Creative Machines, Inc. have designed an interactive public sculpture called Seed that invites people to use mirrors to reflect sunlight to pop popcorn atop a 10-foot tower.
    One concept involves many people using individual reflectors to heat up the popper. The other concept involves people using three, four-foot diameter, vacuum-controlled parabolic reflectors to heat the popper. Either concept will fit within the footprint of the UA Solar Decathlon house, also called the SEED. "We want people to realize you can get a huge amount of power out of the sun – easily as much power as you can get from fossil fuel," O'Connell said. "Participants will work together to concentrate the sun and pop the kernels." 
  • Noon to 4:30, Public tours of the SEED, the UA Solar Decathlon house, and solar racing car, parking lot east of the Architecture Building. The Arizona Solar Racing Team will show off its solar racing car, Drifter 2.0, and possibly a newer solar racing car design now in the works. Also, AzRISE has organized some hands-on solar demonstrations to give people a better idea of how solar panels work, how solar-thermal devices work, and how sunlight might be stored for power when the sun's not shining.
  • 12:50 to 4:30 p.m., Arizona sustainable development, Crowder Hall. “Sustainable Development in Arizona” is the discussion topic for President Shelton; Paul Portney, dean of the Eller College of Management; Diana Liverman, co-director of the Institute of the Environment; Ardeth Barnhart, co-director of AzRISE; and Paul Bonavia, CEO and president of Tucson Electric Power. Chris Conover of Arizona Public Media will moderate.
  • 2 - 4 p.m., Solar research projects, Architecture Building. Scientists and engineers who lead the UA's major solar research and sustainability programs will give spotlight presentations on their projects in a poster session at the T.M. Sundt Gallery in the Architecture Building. Presenters include AzRISE director Joseph Simmons; Neal Armstrong, director of the new U.S. Department of Energy-funded Energy Frontier Research Center at UA; Roger Angel, director of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, who is developing the use of optical mirrors for utility-scale electric generation; Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment; Don Slack of UA's agriculture and biosystems engineering department; and Pierre Meystre of Biosphere 2