Center for Applied Energy Research - 1970s
Center for Applied Energy Research - 1980s
Center for Applied Energy Research - 1990s
1990 - Governor Wallace Wilkinson abolished the Energy Cabinet by Executive Order. Later, by act of the General Assembly, conservation and renewable energy programs were placed in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet. Coal policy and market development responsibilities were placed in a new Governor's Office for Coal and Energy Policy.
1990 - A carbon materials research program was established to investigate alternative, high-value uses for coal and other carbonaceous feedstocks for producing structural, amorphous and graphitic carbons. Early carbon research investigated the synthesis and application of granular and powdered activated carbons, activated carbon fibers and related composite materials.
Early 1990's - CAER developed an array of indirect liquefaction reactor types, ranging from the large 1/8 ton per day reactor to smaller continuous stirred tank reactors for catalyst testing associated with improved processes for coal, biomass and natural gas feedstocks. The center established a leading open-access laboratory for producing and testing catalysts for the synthesis of liquid hydrocarbons.
1992 - CAER was selected to administer the Kentucky DOE Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The program is designed to improve the research capabilities (human capital and physical infrastructure) of select states so that they may better compete for federal research funding.
1993 - Based on the CAER's work related to activated carbon, The Lexington Carbon Company, LLC (and its successor-in-interest companies) was incorporated.LexCarb, LLC was formed to commercialize advanced separation and adsorption products - primarily activated carbons, carbon fibers and related composite materials - for use in chemical recovery, water treatment, environmental processing of gas and liquid streams, catalysis, military and industrial protective filters, and other applications.
1998 - Catalyst Research and Testing Center within the CAER was established to recognize the prominence of this program, and its large industrial support.
Center for Applied Energy Research - 2000s
2001 - From the project on dry ash separation that began in the early 1990s, a spin-off company called TFS - Tribo Flow Separations - was incorporated. TFS received a two-year, $1.8 million start up grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), making TFS the first Kentucky-based company to receive a grant from the NIST program since its inception in 1990.
2002 - CAER demonstrated a technology to recover fuel and aggregates from the coal combustion waste ponds at Western Kentucky Energy's Coleman Power Station in Hawesville, Kentucky. The high-quality fuel was very low in sulfur. Its recovery and use increased the overall efficiency of the power plant. Some of the carbon recovered was so high in quality that it could be useful as a low-cost adsorbent for environmental clean up.
2003 - Two new hires that year brought experts in the fields of electrochemistry and environmental catalysis to the lab. This added to expertise in the areas of Carbon, Clean Fuels and Biofuels research.
2004 - The CAER began to look toward renewable energy investigations in addition to its traditional research on fossil fuels.
2005 - With a vision of improving national security, CAER began to carry out research funded by the Department of Homeland Security. The research ranged from using carbon materials for blast mitigation in wall treatment to reducing the explosion potential of ammonium nitrate coated with coal combustion by-products.
2006 - With funding from E-ON US, the CAER began an extensive program on clean combustion technology and emissions control research. Additional work in renewables continued.
2007 - The state began, once again, to consider coal-to-liquids technologies. The CAER maintained its expertise in this area, while continuing to include emerging technologies.
2008 - CAER was awarded $1.2M over three years by utility giant E.ON to design new materials for highly-efficient electrochemical capacitors. To make widespread use of renewable energy more feasible, they are funding research that tackles renewables' inability to meet base-load demand at the power plant level by funding innovative storage technologies.
Early electrochemical capacitors were used in niche applications, such as after-market automotive sound systems. Recently, they have matured into a variety of applications and are viewed as a tool in the renewable energy portfolio. Their advantage is that they can quickly absorb and deliver energy, which makes them suitable for many applications, including the emerging micro-hybrid automotive market. And since the energy is not stored chemically, electrochemical capacitors have a superior cycle life.
2009 - The Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis group began the algae program at the University of Kentucky, in collaboration with the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. BAE works on media and strain development on a laboratory scale. The CAER maintains a full-size green house where various algae types are grown and tested with the aim of eventually using waste CO2 and heat from a coal-fired power plant to cultivate algae, which could then be processed into value added products.
2009 - The CAER's Power Generation Group formed an industrial-governmental-academic consortium called the Carbon Management Research Group (CMRG), which is carrying out a $24M ten-year research and development program. Initial participants included: Duke Energy, E.ON, East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Kentucky Power Cooperative, along with EPRI. The Kentucky Dept. for Energy Development and Independence is also supporting this project with a yearly $1M match in funding.
2009 - The Commonwealth of Kentucky, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville partnered with Argonne National Laboratory to establish a Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center to create and deploy a domestic supply of advanced battery that will aid in securing U.S. energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help strengthen the economy. The administrative offices are housed at CAER with strong collaborations between the entity and CAER's electrochemistry experts.
2009 - The Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and the Environment (KRCEE) has been supporting the US DOE's efforts to complete the environmental restoration of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, the Western Kentucky Wildlife Management Area, and surrounding areas since 1993. It has operated under the management of the CAER since 2009
Center for Applied Energy Research - 2010 Decade
2010 - Groundbreaking began in the fall for on what will become the university's first LEED-certified laboratory. The $19.8 million renewable energy laboratory will allow the Center to expand research devoted to Kentucky's growing renewable energy industries, including biomass and biofuels, electrochemical power sources (like capacitors and batteries), and distributed solar energy technologies. The project should be completed by the end of 2010.
2010 - The Kentucky Energy Club's purpose is to serve as a conduit for all members of the community to engage, educate and excite one another concerning energy and the future of Kentuckians as active participants on the global energy stage. It is particularly focused on undergraduate students throughout the state. It includes: mentorship programs, energy site tours; community outreach, discussion/lecture series, etc. The club coordinator is based at the CAER.
2011 - Kentucky NSF EPSCoR - The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the late 1970's to promote scientific progress nationwide. It was designed to benefit states that have traditionally received less NSF Research and Development (R&D) funding. Twenty-seven states and U.S. territories participate in the program. Through EPSCoR, NSF has established continuing partnerships with government, higher education and industry that have brought about lasting improvements in Kentucky's R&D infrastructure and ultimately, its national competitiveness. CAER began managing this group in 2011.
2011 - DCE - The Development and Community Engagement group was formed in 2011 by pulling together several support groups into one entity to better serve the CAER. While previously separated, the following areas now all report to an associate director for the group. The areas included are: communications, educational outreach, conference planning, web and social media, Kentucky Energy Club, library, regional office outreach, and policy development.
Center for Applied Energy Research - Today
Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group is focused on reducing the environmental impacts of fuel use and developing renewable fuel sources. An open access laboratory is available to all Kentucky biofuels researchers. It is located at the University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research and the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.
Carbon Materials Group researches engineering and scale-up of a continuous production nanotube process and the incorporation/dispersion of the materials in liquids and composite materials. In addition there is a greater interest in carbon products from pitch and the coking of pitch and coal.
Catalysis Group performs industrial catalyst testing for many of America's major petrochemical companies. This ensures that CAER's work is highly relevant to industrial needs. Besides the established expertise in Fischer-Tropsch catalysis, work is growing in syngas generation, environmental catalysis, and applying catalysis skills for increased hydrogen production at milder conditions via the water gas shift reaction and catalysis related to NOx and SOx formation.
Electrochemical Power Sources Group researches implementing innovative energy-storage devices into a practical future use. Its emphasis is on renewable energy and the promise it holds. This group's work on capacitors will complement the work of the new Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center.
Environmental and Coal Technology Group explores all aspects of ash by generating information to transfer new ideas to benefit utilization, handling, storage and disposal of coal combustion byproducts (CCBs). Also, an emphasis is placed on coal petrology and on tracking mercury and its fate in solid wastes as well as investigating mercury capture on coal-derived materials.
Power Generation and Utility Fuels Group is developing viable technologies for producing clean electricity and energy from Kentucky's fossil resources and biomass. The group's scope includes biomass briquetting, combustion/gasification, carbon management, pollution control as well as power plant performance improvement. In 2011 the group received CAER's largest federal grant ($14.5M) to enhance its pilot-scale technologies on a demonstration scale at a nearby utility.