Solar energy research prospects at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill just got a little bit brighter.

The Energy Frontier Research Center for Solar Fuels at UNC has been received a $10.8 million federal grant for research on turning solar energy technologies into devices that can efficiently produce fuels. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences. The award is part of a $100 million per year initiative from the DOE.

With the grant, UNC’s Energy Frontier Research Center will research approaches to producing solar fuels with the energy of the sun stored for night-time use. The center’s main project is a dye-sensitized photoelectrosynthesis cell. The funds will support the center’s work optimizing the device’s components and integrating them into devices for generating and storing solar fuels for long durations.

“Continued funding will allow us to move ahead in this important area with the twin goals of mastering the basic science behind the dye sensitized photoelectrosynthesis cell and applying it to water splitting into hydrogen fuel and oxygen and in reducing carbon dioxide to useful carbon fuels,” UNC Chemistry Professor Thomas Meyer, the leader of the center, said in a statement.

UNC’s Energy Frontier Research Center for Solar Fuels was established in 2009 with a five-year, $17.5 million award from the Department of Energy as one of 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers at that time. The UNC center’s latest project was one of 32 recipients selected from more than 200 proposals.