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.

UK Eclipse Ballooning Team Conducts Practice Session at UK CAER

clock April 25, 2017 11:40 by author Thomas



A multidisciplinary University of Kentucky College of Engineering student team spent the morning of April 24 at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research preparing for a once in a generation scientific opportunity.

The students are members of the UK Eclipse Ballooning Team and they were conducting a practice launch leading up to this summer’s total solar eclipse on August 21. It will be the first total solar eclipse to cross the Pacific and Atlantic coasts in 99 years and the first to be visible in the southeastern United States since 1970.

The UK Eclipse Ballooning Team is comprised of about 30 UK students. During the eclipse, the student researchers will launch two high-altitude latex balloons equipped to take pictures and record video of this rare event. The UK effort is part of a nationwide scientific effort led by NASA. NASA Space Grant, a program of the NASA Office of Education that develops the U.S. aerospace STEM workforce and aerospace research, is conducting a nationwide cooperative eclipse event with over 50 teams live-streaming video from the edge of space.

Monday’s practice session allowed the team to test systems and procedures that will be used during the eclipse launch. As part of the eclipse launch, the team will fly several payloads – including equipment to livestream video – from an approximate altitude of 80,000-100,000 feet. The UK Eclipse Ballooning Team is supported by NASA Kentucky’s Space Grant Program, which provides aerospace-related experiential learning opportunities at colleges and universities across the state.

The project is guided by faculty coordinator Suzanne Weaver Smith, Donald and Gertrude Lester Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of NASA Kentucky.

“Today was our first double balloon launch in preparation for the eclipse,” said Virginia Smith, Mission Control Team Leader and a UK mechanical engineering student. “While not all of the technology we flew was eclipse ready, this was a fantastic milestone for testing tracking capabilities, video transmission range, and our team's set-up, launch, and recovery operations. I am extremely proud of how our team performed today, especially when the wind was throwing our balloon around, but everyone remained quick on their feet stopping the balloon from hitting the pavement right before launch."



UK CAER scientist Mike Wilson awarded third UK Sustainability Challenge Grant

clock April 24, 2017 09:35 by author Thomas

Michael Wilson has many passions.

There’s his affinity for whitewater kayaking. It doesn’t take too much arm twisting to convince Wilson to head to the mountains for a weekend of camping and riding the currents.

There’s his love for science and discovery. Getting into the laboratory to discover or build something new – that will always be appealing.

 

But it is another of Wilson’s passions that will be keeping him busy in 2017. Wilson received his third consecutive University of Kentucky Sustainability Challenge Grant earlier this year, and the project has him energized.

“This grant is what a major research university should be all about,” said Wilson. “It will allow us to bring in five undergraduate students from a broad range of disciplines to create a novel interdisciplinary research program. It will allow students from various academic interests to pool their skills and know-how to attack a real issue around sustainability. I can’t wait to get started.”

Wilson is in the midst of recruiting students (http://ukjobs.uky.edu/postings/142465) to take part in this unique program. Students will be recruited from a variety of campus programs, including engineering, chemistry, sustainability and design – just to name a few. In addition to being directly involved in the day-to-day execution of research both on campus and at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), this cadre of students will be exposed to regular scientific seminars, in-depth lab tours, design thinking/iteration, and professional development opportunities that will include résumé formatting and interview etiquette. 

This project will leverage educational assessment tools that can help evaluate the academic progress of the students as well as evaluating their knowledge of the importance of research, design processes and sustainability. In addition, the research data generated from the project will be utilized to prepare a National Science Foundation (NSF) proposal that will seek to develop a more formal undergraduate research experience at UK CAER.  

The Sustainability Challenge Grant program was created to engage multidisciplinary teams from the University community in the creation and implementation of ideas that will promote sustainability by simultaneously advancing economic vitality, ecological integrity and social equity. In the first three years of the program, 20 projects have been awarded a total of $500,000 to pursue transformational, sustainability-driven projects on our campus and beyond.

Wilson has received funding for sustainability projects each of the first three years. The first two projects involved a collaborative UK team that was designing a sustainable bus shelter with Martin Summers (School of Architecture) that incorporated advanced design concepts, solar-power generation, water collection systems, and energy/sustainability education. 

Wilson also wanted to extend thanks to those who helped and contributed to this effort. 

“A huge debt of gratitude is owed to numerous collaborators, students, and co-workers for contributing to any progress made; and especially Dr. Mark Crocker for his support in this endeavor.”

The new project builds upon Wilson’s past experience in research and undergraduate research mentoring, with the hope of expanding and enhancing a sustainable undergraduate research program at UK.  

“I look forward to learning as much from the students as they will learn from this program,” said Wilson. “To me, that’s the exciting part. Getting a chance to teach and learn alongside these students is why I enjoy doing what I do.”

 

 



NC State Professor presents seminar on carbon nanotubes

clock April 18, 2017 16:01 by author Thomas

Dr. Phillip Bradford, an Associate Professor in the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science at North Carolina State University, presented a seminar at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research on Tuesday, April 18.

The presentation focused on the work of his research group in their effort to synthesize a special type of carbon nanotube structure called drawable CNT arrays, the production of aligned CNT structures from these CNT arrays and the development of advanced materials with the aligned CNTs as the primary component. Applications of interest include multifunctional composites, electrodes for electrochemical devices, low density foams and filtration. 

 



UK CAER Hosts Annual Energy Fair

clock April 3, 2017 12:03 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research’s annual Energy Fair experienced massive growth in 2017, serving twice as many students as last year while expanding its reach to two new communities. 

Held each year, the UK CAER Energy Fair provides elementary school students in Fayette County a hands-on, interactive introduction to science, engineering and research. Students learn about various energy-related topics including electricity, mining, biofuels, motors, solar panels, and electromagnets. In addition, students had the opportunity to learn about creating a sustainable energy future for the Commonwealth.

Held on March 28-29 at UK’s Memorial Coliseum, this year’s program served more than 660 fourth-grade students from Fayette County as well as students from schools in Paris and Tollesboro, Kentucky.

"The growth is a testament to our scientists and researchers here at UK CAER and partner organizations who are committed to delivering high-quality, hands-on demonstrations to students," said Shiela Medina, Assistant Director for Policy and Engagement at UK CAER. "To double in size from last year and to provide an opportunity to students outside of Fayette County was terrific. We thank everyone who helped make the Energy Fair a success."