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Cypress Provides Solar Panels to Power MIT's Coral Rehabilitation Project in the Philippines

Cypress Semiconductor Corp today announced that it has donated six 90-watt solar panels supplied by its subsidiary, SunPower Corp, to power MIT's First-Step Coral reef rehabilitation project in the Sagay Marine Reserve in the Philippines. The solar panels are powering an innovative coral reef rehabilitation process called BioRock which is capable of increasing coral growth rates by up to five times and improving coral survival by over 20 times during bleaching (higher than normal water temperature) events.

"Sixty percent of animal proteins come from the reefs," said MIT First Step Coral Team Leader Gerardo Jose la O'. "The destruction of the reefs could lead to depletion of marine resources, which is particularly bad news to a region where many people depend on the sea for food."

"It is critically important that the energy sources we use to power our BioRock structures are both renewable and highly efficient," said la O'. "With SunPower solar panels, we were able to locate the energy source close to our structures, minimize challenges in project site selection and reduce system cost."

The First Step Coral project was funded with a grant from MIT after the team won the grand prize at the institution's 5th Ideas Competition in May 2006. The project was launched at the Sagay Marine Reserve in July 2006 and the SunPower panels were installed earlier this year. The team has three working models at the Reserve, each powered by renewable energy sources including solar panels, wind turbines and tidal turbines. The Philippines was selected for the project since it has some of the most productive and most diverse coral reefs in the world. However, 95 percent of them are in poor condition due to sediment from a long history of erosion from deforested islands and heavy fishing using destructive methods.

"Cypress's participation in MIT's First-Step Coral project is an excellent example of the synergies that can be achieved when industry and academia work cooperatively to improve the environment," said Patrick Kane, director of Cypress's University Alliance Program." "We look forward to continuing our partnership with MIT on this critical initiative."

BioRock uses cylindrical or dome-shaped structures made from steel rebar and electrically connected to a power source and a BioRock anode. Low voltage DC current is passed through the submerged BioRock structures to electrochemically deposit a calcium rich layer on the BioRock cathode and stimulate the existing coral polyps to regenerate. Dr. Thomas J. Goreau, president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance and member of the MIT team, pioneered BioRock. Goreau is a dedicated activist on environmental and global ecology issues. His research continues to focus on the effects of global warming and pollution on coral reefs and development of BioRock technologies in the interest of coral preservation and coral reef restoration.

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