UK CAER Current News

The Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) is one of the University of Kentucky's multidisciplinary research centers. Its energy research provides a focal point for environmental, renewable and fossil fuels research in Kentucky.

CAER Provides Chemistry Demonstrations at SCAPA

clock February 29, 2016 09:25 by author Alice

UK CAER’s Wilson Shafer and Gary Jacobs gave chemistry demonstrations to seventh grade students at Fayette County’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) of the Bluegrass. The host for the event was Dr. Ashlie Arkwright from Fayette County Schools. Wilson and Gary performed a number of interesting chemical reactions that are used in our everyday lives and showed important links between chemistry and the fine arts. These included combustion and acid-base neutralization (using invisible inks), redox (including plating reactions and showing changes in pigment with oxidation state), and polymerization reactions (used, for example, in making classical guitar strings).



UK CAER Undergraduate Researcher Presents Research at Kentucky State Capitol

clock February 25, 2016 14:48 by author David Melanson

Courtney McKelphin, an undergraduate researcher at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, was one of 29 UK undergraduate researchers selected to showcase their research to the Kentucky state legislature on Thursday, February 25. Read the full story.



UK CAER Algal Research Hitting the Ground in China

clock February 15, 2016 12:05 by author David Melanson

Algae research at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) is going global.

The Algae and Biofuels Laboratory at UK CAER is partnering with Lianhenghui Investment Company to construct a 5-acre algae production facility in Zhengzhou, China. The facility will feature the Center’s novel photobioreactor technology for growing algae. The algae will be used for the production of nutraceuticals, bioplastics and fuels. The company is also constructing a second, smaller facility in Zhengzhou (2.5 acres), which will employ the same technology to grow algae for the production of nutraceuticals.

Microalgae have attracted considerable interest in recent years as a high-yield renewable feedstock for the production of fuels and chemicals. In addition, algae have been proposed as a means to capture and utilize power plant emissions, since photosynthetic algae can use the CO2 in flue gas as a carbon source.

UK CAER’s Algae and Biofuels group, led by Dr. Mark Crocker, is a worldwide leader in this research. The group has extensive expertise in this area, specializing in photobioreactor design, construction and operation; photobioreactor integration with power plants; and algae cultivation, harvesting and dewatering.

“This is an exciting development for our lab and the next phase of our research,” said Dr. Crocker. “Getting to see our innovations go from the lab to practice at Duke Energy’s East Bend Station in Boone County, Kentucky and now on to an international market is gratifying. We look forward to learning more from our partners at Lianhenghui Investment Company.”

The initial funding for the photobioreactor development was provided by the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence, as part of a project to investigate the potential of algae for the capturing and recycling of power plant CO2 emissions.  After years of research, the lab partnered with Duke Energy’s East Bend Station to install a photobioreactor at that site in late 2012.

“This is an exciting achievement for Mark Crocker and the entire Biofuels group here at CAER,” said Rodney Andrews, Director of UK CAER. “They have been persistent in their efforts to improve the technology, constantly refining their process and improving our understanding of how the biology and engineering systems interact. We look forward to seeing the results of this partnership with Lianhenghui."

In June 2014, the UK CAER licensed its photobioreactor technology to Lianhenghui. Together, UK and Lianhenghui have patented the first and second generation photobioreactor technology in China, and they are in the process of patenting the second generation reactor technology in the United States.

Biofuels – fuels derived from biomass – are promising alternatives to fossil fuels since they are renewable and carbon neutral (the CO2 generated during biofuel use is consumed by plants through photosynthesis, closing the carbon cycle). CAER has considerable experience on the catalytic conversion of different forms of biomass to fuels and chemicals.

For the full story and photos...



UK CAER Hosts Very Successful Ponded Ash Workshop in Tampa, Florida

clock February 12, 2016 16:38 by author Alice
Engineers, consultants, utility representatives and other scientists in the coal ash industry gathered in Tampa, Florida on February 3 and 4th to attend the workshop on “Current Issues in Ponded CCP’s." The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) and the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) co-hosted the 1 1/2 day event that was held in conjunction with ACAA’s annual meeting. Additionally, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) was a workshop sponsor and co-organizer.

Expert speakers from the CAER and industry gave technical presentations to a crowd of 192 attendees. Those presentations included:

  • Nature of Ponds, Sediments, Structure of Ponds - by Dr. Robert Jewell, UK CAER
  • The Recovery and Beneficiation of Ponded Fly Ash - by Dr. Tom Robl, UK CAER
  • Slope Stability Considerations under the CCR Rule - by Mr. John Seymour - Geosyntec
  • Progress Report on Seismic Shear Wall Stabilization of Perimeter Dikes and Loose Sand Foundation by Deep Mixing Method (DMM) - Experiences from Ongoing Construction at TVA's Colbert Ash Pond 4 - by Bill Walton, GEI
  • The New Regulatory Regime - The New Rules Summary - by Mr. John Ward, John Ward, Inc
  • Framework for Evaluating the Relative Impacts of Surface Impoundment Closure Options - by Ms. Ari Lewis, Gradient
  • Groundwater Monitoring and Statistical Analysis Under the CCR Rule - by Mr. Bruce Hensel, EPRI
  • Corrective Action at CCP Ponds - by Ken Ladwig, EPRI
  • In-Situ Stabilization/Solidification of Coal Ash Residuals - by Adam Chwalibog, Arcadis U.S., Inc.
  • North Carolina's Unprecedented Scope, Schedule, and Scrutiny: Insights for the Industry - by Dr. John Daniels, UNCC
  • Pond Closures: How to Avoid "Breaking the Bank" - by Mr. Mark Rokoff, AECOM




The UK CAER’s Environmental and Coal Technologies Group investigates all aspects of coal combustion by-product utilization (flyash). As such, it generates information for the transfer of new ideas to benefit the innovative utilization, handling, storage and disposal of CCBs.

The American Coal Ash Association, established in 1968, is a nonprofit trade association devoted to recycling the materials created when we burn coal to generate electricity. Our members comprise the world's foremost experts on coal ash (fly ash and bottom ash), and boiler slag, flue gas desulfurization gypsum (FGD or "synthetic" gypsum), and other flue gas materials captured by emissions controls.


UK CAER Scientists Publish in CCGP Journal

clock February 12, 2016 13:30 by author Alice
The newest article published in the Coal Combustion and Gasification Products journal is Coal Ash By-Product from Shanxi Province, China, for the Production of Portland-Calcium Sulfoaluminate, written by authors Tristana Y. Duvallet, Thomas L. Robl, and Kevin R. Henke (from UK CAER) as well as Yongmin Zhou, David Harris.

Web Link - Free article download

ABSTRACT: Twenty bulk samples were collected from ponded coal combustion ash in Shanxi Province, China, as part of an investigation of their beneficiation potential. The samples were shipped to the University of Kentucky, where they were chemically analyzed. The samples were highly consistent in chemistry, falling within the ASTM C-618 class F compositional range. The particle size of the ponded ash was relatively coarse, with only, 7% by weight on average, falling below 200 mesh (75mm) particle size. The bulk of the material (80%) was within 50 by 200 mesh (equivalent to 300 by 75mm). X-ray diffraction investigation combined with microscopy indicated that the agglomeration was probably due to the presence of small amounts (i.e.,,3.5%) of gypsum. The utilization potential of the ash was assessed in light of its characteristics and location. The presence of sulfate and relatively high alumina concentration, which averaged, 37%, suggested that it may serve as an important ingredient in the fabrication of a Portland–calcium sulfoaluminate (CSA) hybrid cement. Portland-CSA hybrid clinkers were successfully produced from this ponded ash when mixed with hydrated lime, gypsum, fluorite, and bauxite. The raw mixture was fired at 1250u C for 60 minutes twice (sample D) and consisted of approximately 40% alite (C3S), 21% belite (C2S), 3% ferrite (brownmillerite or C4AF), 32% CSA (ye’elimite, Klein’s compound, or C4A3SO3), and no free lime by weight.

2016 The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research and the American Coal Ash Association. All rights reserved.

Coal Combustion and Gasification Products is a unique peer-reviewed journal designed specifically to communicate coal ash research and emerging new technologies. CCGP is a joint venture between the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) and the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA). The organizations' primary goal is to bring together research that currently is published in disparate sources.

CCGP is an international on-line journal encompassing the science and technology of the production, sustainable utilization, and environmentally-sound handling of the byproducts of coal combustion and gasification. This includes fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, gasification residue, and byproducts from coal-fuel blends, flue-gas desulfurization products, and related materials.