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 Undergraduate Research Program Opens Door to International Opportunity

clock July 12, 2017 08:15 by author Thomas

Sarah Hodges had never stepped foot into a research laboratory until she began her educational career at the University of Kentucky. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hodges enrolled at UK in the fall of 2015 to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.

 

Once at UK, Hodges took part in the Broadening Participation in Engineering (BPE) program, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded program led by Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez from the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER).

Hodges became interested in some of the research taking place in UK CAER's Materials Technologies Group and was paired with mentor Tristana Duvallet. She embarked on a research project with that group during the summer of 2016, and she received a competitive award for the project by UK's Office of Undergraduate Research.

That BPE program, Hodges said, changed her educational pathway, swinging open wide a world of opportunity that has led her to France this summer to pursue her burgeoning research career.

In 2016, Dr. Santillan-Jimenez encouraged Hodges to apply for the Kentucky-West Virginia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (KY-WV LSAMP) program. Participation in the KY-WV LSAMP program led her to being nominated for an international Research Experience for Undergraduates. This award will allow Hodges to study alongside Professors Gerard Mortha and Capucine Dupont at the University of Grenoble in France this summer to perform research on the thermal degradation of cellulose, which is of interest to applications related to the production of energy, fuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass.

 

As part of the program, Hodges will also attend ELITECAT 2017, a summer school of catalysis held in Lyon, France, which is home to one of the most prestigious centers for catalysis studies in Europe and the world.

"The opportunities that have been made available to me through undergraduate research here at UK CAER have been life-changing," said Hodges. "Traveling to France and learning the French culture through research is something I could never have dreamed of. I thank everyone at UK and CAER who have helped me along the way."



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."


 

 



UK CAER Helping Fayette County Recycle Cooking Oil this Thanksgiving

clock November 21, 2016 13:46 by author Thomas

The UK Center for Applied Energy Research is partnering with several Kentucky organizations to help turn left-over Thanksgiving cooking oil into biofuel. 

The Gobble Grease Toss will be held Friday, November 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Redwood Cooperative School. The school is located on the same campus as Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church at 3534 Tates Creek Rd. Cooking oil will be used by the UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), with additional cooking oil recycled by Kelley Green Biofuel.

“Redwood Cooperative School is very excited to host the annual Gobble Grease Toss and to provide a way for our community to recycle another common household item,” said Sarah Cummins, event coordinator at Redwood Cooperative School. “We embrace this opportunity to be environmental stewards and support renewable energy science."

Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez with UK CAER explains that they will use the oil for “a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation in which a novel technology to convert vegetable oils and animal fats to diesel and jet-fuel is being developed.” 

“Anytime we can give a waste product new life, we are interested,” said Dr. Santillan-Jimenez, who works in UK CAER’s Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group. “We also know that pouring grease down drains can cause real damage to sewer lines. This project helps us remove that waste product from homes and it allows Kelley Green Biofuel in Louisville to use that oil to power vehicles.” 

The Gobble Grease Toss is free for all Fayette County residents (no businesses, please). Citizens should bring the oil in a disposable container with a lid. 

For more information on the Gobble Grease Toss, call LexCall at 3-1-1 or 425-2255 or visit www.LexingtonKY.gov/LiveGreen.



CAER facilitates student PGDP tour

clock November 15, 2016 13:59 by author Thomas

 

CAER's Kentucky Research Consortium on Energy and the Environment facilitated a tour of the Department of Energy's Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant for UK College of Design and Marshall County High School students. The tour was part of two larger projects: the Annual Site Evaluation Report, being written by the MCHS students; and the Atomic City Research Group studio by the UK CoD students.

Full story can be found on UKPR: here.



CAER Hosts Local Elementary Educators

clock October 19, 2016 13:58 by author Thomas

 

Last week, UK CAER's Robby Pace was educating elementary school students. This week, he was helping to teach teachers as part of a Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education "Energy in Elementary Education" grant.



Summer Partnership with Kentucky State University

clock July 21, 2016 09:49 by author Thomas


Kazi Javed, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Kentucky State University (KSU), has always been committed to bringing science to life for his students. This summer, he is doing just that thanks to a unique partnership with the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER).


Dr. Javed, who teaches an analytical instrumentation class at KSU, is volunteering in the Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group here at UK CAER this summer. With a focus in the classroom on instrument design and method development, Dr. Javed is bringing KSU students to UK CAER’s lab this summer to introduce them and train them on instrumentation not available at KSU.

 

Joining Dr. Javed from KSU are four students: Ma’Kaylah Garrett, a biology student from Indianapolis, Indiana; Steven Hall, a mechanical engineering student from Frankfort, Kentucky; Andrew Lentini, a mechanical engineering student from Shelbyville, Kentucky; and Siraj Ramsey, a mechanical engineering student from Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The mechanical engineering students are taking part in KSU and UK’s joint program, where the students attend KSU for three years and UK for two years. Participants receive a bachelor’s in mathematics from KSU and a UK engineering bachelor’s degree.

 

This collaborative work was made possible thanks to National Science Foundation grants entitled “MRI: Acquisition of a Gas Chromatograph with Dual Detection Capabilities to be Used in Sustainable Energy Research” (award number 1531637) and “SusChEM: Promotion of Nickel Catalysts for the Conversion of Biomass-derived Oils to Fuel-like Hydrocarbons” (award number 1437604). 



CAER Hosts Southern Legislative Conference Attendees

clock July 12, 2016 15:55 by author Thomas


The UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) was pleased to host Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) attendees for a center tour on Tuesday, July 12. Lexington is serving as host of the 70th annual SLC Annual Meeting July 9-13 and, as part of the meeting, conference attendees took part in technical tours.

The Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments was established in 1947 and comprises presiding officers and key legislators from 15 Southern states. The SLC is a non-partisan organization located in Atlanta, Georgia.



Center Helps Train Kentucky Science Teachers

clock June 2, 2016 12:29 by author Thomas

It may be summer but school is most certainly in session at UK CAER. But in this classroom, it is the teachers that are the pupils.

UK CAER researchers are taking part in a Kentucky Council for Post-secondary Education (CPE)-funded program to train science and mathematics teachers how to teach energy in the classroom. The program, Energy is Elementary, is a partnership between the UK College of Education and CAER, and is taking place at the Center from June 1-3.  This grant has afforded the Center the opportunity, to expand the current CAER 101 program to a total of 11 schools. The CAER 101 program gives our researchers the opportunity to be present in the classroom and inspire 4th grade students to become scientists while having fun and learning the basics of energy.



Winburn Problem Solvers Team Visits CAER

clock May 25, 2016 08:44 by author Thomas

Students from Winburn Middle School's Future Problem Solvers team spent some time at UK's Center for Applied Energy Research on May 17 to help prepare for an international competition. The students spent time with representatives from CAER, DEDI and the Association of MISO States to learn about the future of the energy industry.

 

 

The students are training for a problem solving competition that will take place June 1-5 at Michigan State University. The contest will feature a question about energy and the students came to CAER to learn as much as they can about that topic.

"We tried to provide as much useful information about energy as we could," said Shiela Medina, Assistant Director of Policy and Engagement for the Center. "It was a pleasure to host such a bright and inquisitive group of students. I can't wait to see how they do at their competition."



UK CAER Ingenuity Featured at E-Day

clock March 1, 2016 09:18 by author David Melanson

UK CAER’s education and outreach missions were on full display on Saturday, February 27 as part of UK’s Engineers Day, or as it is commonly-referred, E-Day. E-Day, a celebration of everything engineering has to offer, is held each year on UK’s engineering complex.


E-Day is an opportunity for school-aged children – from elementary all the way through high school – to learn more about the exciting things engineers and computer scientists do. It also serves as a way to introduce students to experiential activities, including high school and undergraduate research opportunities.


Representing the Center at E-Day this year were Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez and Tristana Duvallet, who were busying answering questions from interested students and parents about what a career in science would look like.

 



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 Makes Splash at UK Sustainability Forum

clock December 3, 2015 11:30 by author David Melanson

 

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) made quite the splash at the 2015 University of Kentucky Sustainability Forum and Research Showcase Tuesday. Two members of the CAER presented posters during the showcase, and two of the seven UK Sustainability Challenge Grants were awarded to UK CAER projects.

Courtney McKelphin, a undergraduate student researcher at the Center, received Best Poster Award for her project entitled on “Improving the Economics of Algae Biofuels through Optimized Extractions from Wet Algae.”

UK CAER staff member Michael Wilson presented a poster highlighting the engineering achievements in support of the 2014 Challenge Grant Project “Development of Sustainable Bus Stops” along with team members from the College of Design. The project also received 2015 grant funding.

In addition to the poster presentation portion of the event, the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee awarded nearly $200,000 to campus sustainability projects that focused on the creation and implementation of ideas that promote sustainability by advancing economic vitality, ecological integrity and social equity, now and into the future.

This program is a collaborative effort of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, The Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment and the Office of Sustainability. Funding for the program was provided by the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Provost, the Vice President for Research and the Student Sustainability Council.

CAER projects receiving funding included:

Point of Departure - Awarded $49,991

CAER and the College of Design are partnering to construct critically-placed transit shelters—plugging into campus transportation to physically manifest UK’s sustainability and transportation agendas. The designs integrate sustainable site strategies, context specificity, high-performance architectural skins, sustainable materials, photovoltaic systems, storm water management, high-efficiency lighting and infographic displays to reimagine what a shelter can be. This grant will catalyze the integration of sustainability and educational aspects within the design as it transitions toward real world implementation, leveraging the impact of campus research to engage students in a dialogue about sustainability, alternate transportation, the value of design, and the possibilities of collaborative research at UK.

Team Members: Martin Summers, College of Design-School of Architecture; Michael Wilson, CAER; Regina Hannemann, College of Engineering-Electrical Engineering; Owen Duross, College of Design-School of Architecture; Thompson Burry, College of Design-School of Architecture.

From SEE(E)D to (S)STEM - Awarded $25,184

In this project, UK science, engineering, entrepreneurship, education and design – SEE(E)D – students, faculty and staff will work together to develop a system for the production of didactic tools to be used in outreach efforts designed to promote sustainability, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – (S)STEM – to underserved K-12 students. This will be done utilizing as a case study a game that has been conceived and used to teach K-12 students about complex and often misunderstood energy and sustainability issues. While the science behind this game and the relationship between the latter and the K-12 curriculum are solid, the presentation can be improved to make the game more effective. The game will be improved by having educators and designers strengthen the graphical and pedagogical aspects of the game to ultimately facilitate and deepen the understanding of K-12 students of the important sustainability issues presented. In addition, this effort will be made sustainable from an economic standpoint through a business plan – to be developed by UK student entrepreneurs – in which any profits from the game constituting the case study can be reinvested in the development of additional didactic tools, thus translating this work into a sustainable model through which other tools can be developed. Notably, this work will also serve to advance social equity not only because the K-12 institutions involved have high percentages of minority and/or free and reduced lunch students, but also because minority engineering students will be involved in taking the didactic tool to be developed to these K-12 institutions.

Team Members: Eduardo Santillian-Jimenez, CAER; Rebekah Radtke, College of Design-Department of Interiors; Margaret Mohr-Schoeder, College of Education-Department of STEM Education.

“It was a wonderful forum for showcasing the sustainability efforts at UK, and how our Center is playing a leading role in transforming sustainability education, research and outreach here in Kentucky,” said Courtney Fisk, President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee Co-Chair, and Assistant Director for Facilities and Operations.



UK CAER Hosts Local Elementary Students for Annual Energy Fair

clock January 16, 2015 11:35 by author Alice

 

Last month, the UK Center for Applied Energy Research once again hosted its annual Energy Fair. The event brings in classes of 4th and 5th graders from local elementary schools. The students get to meet and interact with scientists and engineers, learn about different forms of energy and how they're used, and participate in hands-on experiments and demonstrations.

Over 250 students attended the fair, which had over a dozen demonstrations from CAER, BCTC, KGS, Bluegrass Energy and other local energy groups.

The full article can be read at UKNow.



UK CAER Presents Workshop at 10th Annual GEMS Event

clock December 4, 2014 10:31 by author Alice

UK CAER Staff were workshop presenters at the 10th anniversary of the Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) event at the University of Kentucky, an event organized by the Girl Scouts of America. This event, their biggest to date with over 340 scouts in attendance, offers a number of hands-on and instructional workshops in the STEM fields.

Since 2005, the Girl Scouts Kentucky Wilderness Road Council and the UK College of Engineering has hosted the event, a series of workshops designed to teach girls about careers in science, the scientific method, how science is used in daily life, and how much math and science are connected.

Courtney Fisk, Stephanie Kesner, Sarah Peak, and Anne Oberlink ran a workshop on power generation. Students were shown how power is generated, and the basics of turbine power generation, and given the chance to use simple turbines and hand crank generators to light LEDs and power fans respectively. They were shown how electricity is measured, using a multimeter. Also, the basics of electricity transport were shown using simple circutis, batteries, buzzers, and fans.