LITTLE ROCK - Picasolar, a solar start-up company affiliated with the Arkansas Research and Technology Park at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, will expand its operations thanks to $2 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The company has received a third round of grant funding from the federal agency’s SunShot Initiative to support its hydrogen super emitter, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission said Wednesday.

Picasolar is raising $2 million in investments to match the $2 million from the Energy Department. The money will enable the company to operate at full production and increase its workforce from nine to as many as 15 employees, AEDC said in a news release.

Picasolar’s hydrogen super emitter improves efficiency by altering the conductivity of the top layer of silicon solar cells and reduces the amount of silver needed to manufacture the panels by up to 22 percent, making them more marketable and affordable. The hydrogen super emitter could save the average solar panel manufacturer up to $120 million annually, according to the release.

The SunShot Initiative funds cooperative research, development, demonstration and deployment projects by private companies, universities, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and national laboratories with the goal of increasing efficiency while decreasing costs for consumers.