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.

New UK CAER Undergraduate Research Award Named for Lee Todd, Will Train Energy Entrepreneurs

clock November 9, 2017 07:56 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) has created a new program to help train the next generation of Kentucky’s energy entrepreneurs. Named in honor of former UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr., the program will support undergraduate research and student entrepreneurship at the University.



The Lee T. Todd, Jr. Student Innovation Award will provide undergraduate student entrepreneurs with an opportunity to develop their ideas alongside UK CAER scientists and engineers in a collaborative environment.

“This program will allow us to provide a unique research and development experience,” said Rodney Andrews, Director of UK CAER. “Students who have a big idea – an idea they hope to commercialize – will have a chance to develop, test and prove their concepts alongside energy research and development experts.”  

Awardees will have full access to UK CAER laboratories and equipment and will receive a stipend for their work. Students also will have an entrepreneurial mentor to assist them in the commercialization aspect of their project. Todd said what attracted him most to the UK CAER program was the intentional focus on entrepreneurial mentorship.

“I was flattered that UK CAER named this program in my honor,” said Lee T. Todd, a native of Earlington, Kentucky. “I have long admired UK CAER, their researchers, and commitment to strengthening the Commonwealth’s energy economy.”

Todd created two global technology companies – Projectron and DataBeam – in Lexington. Both companies were based on University-generated intellectual property, with 56 of the 70 DataBeam engineers being UK graduates.

“When you think about University-driven innovation and commercialization here in Kentucky, the first person most of us think of is Lee Todd,” said Andrews. “He inspired a generation of Kentuckians to think differently – to realize that they too could compete in the global, high-tech economy.”

The Lee T. Todd, Jr. Student Innovation Award will be funded through private donations. UK CAER has received a lead gift for the project and are actively raising funds to endow the program. Those interested in supporting the program can do so online: https://goo.gl/hxp5MB.

“The UK Center for Applied Energy Research is to be commended for naming and establishing its student innovation award in honor of the University of Kentucky’s 11th president, Dr. Lee Todd,” said Mike Richey, vice president for philanthropy.  “Not only is Dr. Todd fondly remembered as a dynamic university president, but continues to be highly regarded as a leading visionary, entrepreneur, strategic thinker, inventor and innovator.

“The Lee T. Todd, Jr. Student Innovation Award is a most appropriate way to recognize this leader’s legacy: To help train and educate the next generation of energy entrepreneurs.”



Wayne Pettit awarded Marybeth McAlister Outstanding Staff Award

clock October 11, 2017 08:24 by author Thomas


UK CAER's Wayne Pettit was one of several University of Kentucky employees recognized at the 2017 Outstanding Staff Award program. Wayne has worked at UK CAER for nearly 39 years - having served with great professionalism and kindness. Congratulations, Wayne!



Here's How UK is Making Kentucky a World Leader in Manufacturing

clock October 10, 2017 10:53 by author Thomas

Manufacturing Day, which occurs on the first Friday in October, is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. As the University of Kentucky joins participating manufacturing industries and academic institutions in this year’s observance, UK is proud to share how the College of Engineering is embarking on a strategy for growth to better serve industry, the state economy and the citizens of Kentucky.

With several automotive and aerospace manufacturers, suppliers and many other manufacturing companies located within a 100-mile radius from the university, the college is strategically placed to promote manufacturing growth in the Commonwealth. As a result, the college leads Kentucky’s manufacturing in three key ways: education, research and technology development.

The college educates leaders who transform community through its master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering — a degree that is entirely available online. The flexibility offered by this program enables Kentuckians already employed in manufacturing to take further steps in their career and utilize their knowledge to design and manage sustainable products, processes and systems. At the undergraduate level, the brand new Automotive Production Engineering Certificate introduces students to automotive manufacturing core processes. Students are motivated through the integration of knowledge and creative thinking by solving real-world engineering problems.

The UK College of Engineering's manufacturing research contributes to product and process development that promotes economic growth with an eye to sustainability. The Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing (ISM) comprises faculty from nearly every engineering department, and its primary objectives are to develop and advance sustainable manufacturing principles and practices in Kentucky, the nation and the world. ISM’s predictive modeling tools for total lifecycle-based product designs reduce material/energy consumption and develop tools and practices to improve performance at the manufacturing systems and supply chain levels.

Additionally, UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) also remains committed to advancing Kentucky and the nation’s manufacturing industry. The center is a member of three of 10 Manufacturing USA Institutes — Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing (IACMI) and Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID). UK CAER is a global leader in next-generation carbon fiber research, home to the largest carbon fiber spinline at any institution in North America. The center also continues its research in low-energy, low-CO2, high-value concrete products.

As for technology development, the Institute of Research for Technology Development (IR4TD) is a unique engineering research center dedicated to research, education, outreach and service. IR4TD believes companies want more than mere survival in today’s economy; they want to prosper and grow. IR4TD helps companies accomplish their goals through their research and development and lean systems programs. Further, academic enhancements such as the Scholars in Engineering Leadership and Engineering Scholars in Entrepreneurship programs train students to become leaders and change agents who can disrupt business as usual with new innovations and technology.

No matter how the world changes, the need for high-quality, sustainable, advanced manufacturing persists. The UK College of Engineering looks forward to partnering with industry and government to make Kentucky a world leader in this vital area.



UK CAER Receives More Rare Earth Element Research Funding

clock September 26, 2017 15:56 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) received yet another federal grant to broaden its burgeoning rare earth element research and development portfolio.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the $1.5 million project is entitled “Rare-Earth Elements in US Coal-Based Resources: Sampling, Characterizations, and Round-Robin Inter-laboratory Study.” The grant represents a collaborative effort between the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC), UK CAER, and the Kentucky Geological Survey.

As part of the project, UK CAER will collect samples from four regions across Appalachia to determine the concentration of rare earth elements in those coalfields. The sites include: Pennsylvania anthracite; Castleman Basin, Maryland to Clearfield County, Pennsylvania; Eastern Kentucky; and Alabama.

"We are pleased to be working with the University of North Dakota EERC on this project,” said Jim Hower, a principal research scientist at UK CAER and a research professor in UK’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Department. “While the emphasis in the project is western US sampling, there is an Appalachian component to the study. More than just being a way to round out the coverage of sample location, this gives the UK CAER and Kentucky Geological Survey an opportunity to better understand the distribution of rare earth elements within coals in some of the most promising portions of the Appalachian coalfields."

Data collected from this project will supplement extensive REE data already collected from Kentucky’s Fire Clay coal.  



REEs are a series of 17 chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. Due to their unique chemical properties, REEs are essential components of technologies spanning a range of applications, including electronics, computer and communication systems, transportation, health care and national defense. The demand for REEs has grown significantly in recent years, stimulating an interest in economically feasible approaches for domestic REE recovery.

UK CAER has become a global leader in REE research and development in recent years. In fact, UK has received 17 awards for REE research from six funding agencies since 2012. In addition to Hower, UK CAER’s Jack Groppo, a principal research engineer at CAER and faculty member in UK Mining Engineering, has received several awards for REE R&D efforts. Rick Honaker, a faculty member in UK Mining Engineering and a member of the UK CAER Advisory Board, has also received several REE grants.



UK CAER Receives International Grant for CO2 Capture Research

clock September 5, 2017 10:53 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research has received a $300,000 grant from the Shanxi Science and Technology Department through the Shanxi Research Institute for Clean Energy of Tsinghua University in China to scale-up its hybrid technology for post-combustion CO2 capture in a coal-fired power plant.

 


The project is a continuation of the CO2 capture research that has been taking place between the two institutions since 2011. The collaboration between UK CAER and Tsinghua University launched thanks to the United States-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC). CERC was created in 2009 by U.S. Department of Energy, the China Ministry of Science and Technology and the China National Energy Administration to facilitate joint research and development on clean energy by teams of scientists and engineers from the US and China.

 

UK CAER is a founding member of CERC’s Advanced Coal Technologies Consortium. The consortium’s purpose is to advance American and Chinese leadership and collaboration in advanced coal technologies, particularly as directed to carbon capture and utilization, advanced combustions systems and geological sequestration.

 

The project is entitled “Demonstration Project for Post-Combustion CO2 Capture Process for Coal-Fired Power Plant,” and the research will take place in China’s Shanxi Province.

 

Technology being utilized at the large-pilot project was first developed thanks to the Carbon Management Research Group (CMRG) consisting of Duke Energy, Electric Power Research Institute, LG&E and KU and former members - Kentucky Power, East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Big Rivers Electric Corporation, and the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence. CMRG is an industrial-governmental-academic consortium that seeks to develop cost-effective technologies for reducing and managing carbon dioxide emissions in coal-fired power plants. UK CAER’s innovative post-combustion project was supported by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.



UK Receives US Department of Energy Funding to Further Groundbreaking Rare Earth Element Research

clock August 24, 2017 08:30 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) continues to be at the leading edge in the hunt to recover rare earth elements (REE) from coal and coal byproducts. Two of the four U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) projects recently selected to receive funding for novel REE research were born out of UK innovation and collaboration.

DOE selected four projects to move on to a second phase of research in their efforts to advance recovery of rare earth elements. DOE will invest $17.4 million to develop and test REE recovery systems originally selected and designed under phase 1 of a prior funding opportunity announcement through DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE).

UK researchers are involved in two of these projects totaling $12 million of the $17.4 million in total funding.  

The projects, expected to be completed by 2020, fall under two areas of interest: (1) bench-scale technology to economically separate, extract, and concentrate mixed REEs from coal and coal byproducts, including aqueous effluents; and (2) pilot-scale technology to economically separate, extract, and concentrate mixed REEs from coal and coal byproduct solids.

Both of the UK projects received $6 million and were selected under DOE interest 2 (pilot-scale technology development).

UK CAER will work on the project awarded to Physical Sciences, Inc. of Andover, Mass. The project will use coal fly ash physically processed near Trapp, Ky. as their feedstock. The fly ash is a byproduct of combusting Central Appalachian bituminous coal in a power plant boiler. The select portion will be shipped to a Pennsylvania location for subsequent processing to produce the final rare earth product. In addition, researchers will evaluate recovery of other useful materials from the fly ash.  Jim Hower, a principal research scientist at UK CAER and a research professor in UK’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Department, and Jack Groppo, a principal research engineer at CAER and faculty member in UK Mining Engineering, will serve as co-PIs on this grant.  

UK’s Department of Mining Engineering will oversee the second project. The research will use two sources of coal preparation (coal washing) byproducts as feedstock for recovery of REEs. The team will also recover dry, fine coal from the feedstock material. The first location for installation and testing of the pilot plant will be at a coal preparation plant in Perry County, Ky. that processes Central Appalachian bituminous coal. The second location for testing of the pilot plant will be at a coal preparation plant that processes Illinois Basin bituminous coal near Nebo, Ky.  UK CAER’s Dr. Groppo will also provide expertise in physical separation processing and plant design on that project.

“The research advances made in rare earths over the last several years has been remarkable,” said Dr. Hower, who first discovered rare earth concentrations in Kentucky coal seams in the late 1990s. “We hope this research funding will accelerate research and development in this promising area that could have a profound impact on Kentucky’s energy economy.” 


 

REEs are a series of 17 chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. Due to their unique chemical properties, REEs are essential components of technologies spanning a range of applications, including electronics, computer and communication systems, transportation, health care and national defense. The demand for REEs has grown significantly in recent years, stimulating an interest in economically feasible approaches for domestic REE recovery. 



CAER hosts Wichita State University Professor's talk on Spectrometry

clock August 16, 2017 15:59 by author Thomas

On Wednesday, August 16, UK CAER invited Professor Hussein H. Hamdeh, from the Wichita State University Department of Physics to present "Materials characterization by Mössbauer Spectrometry".


 

 


Mossbauer Spectrometry is often used to characterize the structural, electrical and magnetic properties of materials.  This technique is particularly effective in the study of non-equilibrium disordered and nanoscale structures where it provides information unobtainable by diffraction and other techniques.  The presentation covered the fundamentals of the Mossbauer Effect, the spectrometer, the measured hyperfine parameters and few applications in applied physics/materials and chemistry.



UK CAER’s Biofuels Group Receives $2M to Support Novel Emissions Research

clock August 15, 2017 08:53 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research’s (CAER) Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group has received a $2 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to develop new emissions technology for low-temperature gasoline.



The project is entitled “Research and Development of Novel Adsorber Technology to Address Hydrocarbon and Nitrogen Oxide Emissions for Low Temperature Gasoline Applications.” As part of the grant, UK CAER will be partnering with the University of California, Berkeley, Purdue University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Ford Motor Company.

This research project seeks to solve a problem with vehicle emissions. As internal combustion engines become more efficient, their exhaust gas becomes cooler. However, catalytic converters need to be warm to start efficiently removing pollutants (specifically nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons).

With national emission standards for vehicles becoming more stringent, it is increasingly important to remove these pollutants from exhaust gas when a vehicle is first started, in other words, when the exhaust gas is still cold.  

“To accomplish this goal, we are conducting research on a class of materials (zeolites) that can effectively trap pollutants until the vehicle’s catalytic converter is warm enough to convert them to harmless products,” said Mark Crocker, Associate Director of UK CAER’s Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group and Professor of Chemistry. “If successful, this technology will play a critical role in creating cleaner and more efficient vehicles.”

The grant was funded by DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office, and reasserts DOE’s commitment to advanced, energy efficient transportation technologies. Work of this type will improve our nation’s energy security, help consumers and businesses save money on transportation energy costs, and strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness. All told, DOE invested $19.4 million in 22 new cost-shared projects across the nation.



UK CAER Student Researcher Places Third in UK Poster Contest

clock August 11, 2017 14:14 by author Thomas

Braxton McFarland, a student researcher in UK CAER’s Power Generation Group, placed third in the UK Department of Chemistry’s annual poster completion. McFarland, a native of Lexington, Kentucky, graduated with a degree in chemistry from UK in spring 2017.

 

 

The title of the poster was “Electroless Copper Plating Method for 3D Printed Circuit Boards.” 





UK CAER and MIT Researchers Study Large-scale Energy Storage Battery

clock July 21, 2017 11:03 by author Thomas

A team of scientists at the University of Kentucky and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been awarded a $200,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop a prototype of a battery utilizing chemical components prepared at UK.

UK chemistry professors Susan Odom and John Anthony -- who both have appointments at the Center for Applied Energy Research -- synthesized new organic compounds as donors and acceptors for a type of battery called a redox flow battery (RFB), currently of great interest for large-scale energy storage. In collaboration with James Landon (UK CAER) and Fikile Brushett (MIT), the team will investigate the operation of the new materials in a prototype.

 

This PFI: AIR-TT (Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research-Technology Translation) project focuses on incorporating high concentration organic electrolytes for redox flow batteries (RFBs) into functional, high-voltage, stationary batteries. RFB have advantages for electrical grid-scale energy storage options, including peak leveling and frequency regulation, which would reduce overall energy consumption when linked with an electrical grid. RFBs are inherently well-suited for large applications such as these because they scale more cost effectively (power and energy capacities are decoupled) than most battery technologies.

This project investigates nonaqueous RFBs containing organic electro-active species. This proposed type of RFB has the following unique features relative to other RFB designs: higher operating voltages, noncorrosive electrolytes, smaller size, and use of scalable organic active materials (more environmentally friendly and potentially lower cost). The potential customer benefit would stem from more affordable options for stationary energy storage, enabling a greater reliance on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and improving energy efficiency of the electric grid, which together can reduce the anthropogenic generation of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion.

Under this project, a prototype full-cell RFB with high concentrations of promising organic electro-active materials will be built and tested. To date, the lack of a demonstration of a high-concentration full cell has prevented an analysis of the performance and identification of the potential advantages and limitations of electro-active organic compounds. Moreover, performance-limiting factors associated with cell design or component failure are difficult to distinguish for active material decay. Full cell testing, at near practical conditions, is required to complete a thorough performance assessment.

The project engages United Technologies Research Center to provide additional testing assessments and to guide commercialization aspects in this technology translation effort from research discovery toward commercial reality.

For more information, visit www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1701085&HistoricalAwards.



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 Mining Engineering, CAER Receive DOE Funding for Rare Earth Element Research

clock June 27, 2017 15:13 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky has received two of three U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants for its promising work in the emerging field of rare earth element (REE) research.

DOE's Office of Fossil Energy recently announced that the three projects have been selected to receive approximately $3 million for research aimed at producing salable rare earth elements from domestic coal and coal by-products. UK's Department of Mining Engineering is a partner on one of those projects while UK's Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) is a partner on another project.

 

 

 

REEs are a series of 17 chemical elements found in the Earth's crust. Due to their unique chemical properties, REEs are essential components of technologies spanning a range of applications, including electronics, computer and communication systems, transportation, health care and national defense. The demand for REEs has grown significantly in recent years, stimulating an interest in economically feasible approaches for domestic REE recovery.

Rick Honaker, chair of UK's Department of Mining Engineering, will oversee a project which will involve conducting laboratory testing and preparing their technical design for a pilot plant to produce salable REEs. They will use by-products from an existing West Virginia coal preparation (coal washing) plant as their raw material for extracting REEs. Their phase 1 design includes recovery and sale of dry, fine, high-quality coal from this raw material as an additional source of revenue.

"Coal and coal by-products have the potential to be the source of a critical national need in the supply of rare earth elements including those that have been identified as strategically important by the U.S. Department of Defence. Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) were the first to recognize this fact and, with strong congressional support led by Congressman Hal Rogers, have developed a research and development program to expedite the commercialization of this opportunity," Honaker said. "We are grateful that NETL has selected our team to be one of three to initiate the development of a small, commercial production facility to produce rare earth element concentrates from coal and coal products. If successful, rare earth production facilities in the coalfields could significantly reduce the reliance on imports where nearly 100 percent of the critical materials are obtained, while also positively impacting job creation and the financial stability of mining companies."

Jim Hower, a principal research scientist at UK CAER and a research professor in UK's Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, will oversee the second project, which will utilize by-products from an eastern Kentucky coal preparation plant as their source of REEs. Their phase 1 design will consider recovery and sale of coal from these preparation plant by-products as an additional source of revenue.

"Our rare earth element recovery research is a natural extension of the center's efforts in creating high-value products from coal and coal combustion by-products," Hower said. "We look forward to bringing this knowledge to bear, and the potential for creating new jobs and economic opportunities in Kentucky and across the United States. We are most grateful to DOE for this support, and thankful to Congressman Hal Rogers for his continued leadership in support of UK CAER's coal by-product utilization research and development."

These REE projects speak to the unique and long-standing collaboration between UK Mining Engineering and UK CAER. Jack Groppo, a principal research engineer at CAER and faculty member in UK Mining Engineering, will also provide expertise in physical separation processing and plant design on Honaker's project.

 

 

"The University of Kentucky is engaged in answering Kentucky questions that, often, have global implications," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "These grants underscore the leading role UK's Center for Applied Energy Research and Department of Mining Engineering play in our national energy dialogue. UK faculty and staff researchers are recognized pioneers, and their research and discovery plays an integral role in how we improve, utilize, and enhance the capacity of our energy economy. I want to thank Congressman Hal Rogers for his continued support of the University of Kentucky, and his belief in our people's capacity to address those questions most vexing to the state we serve, together."

"I applaud the University of Kentucky for the continued tireless efforts to secure the future of coal and coal by-products across the country," said Congressman Hal Rogers, who supported federal funding for DOE grant opportunities. "Rare earth elements are utilized in ways you may not know about, from computers, to telescopes, to aircraft engines, to specialized glass, and medical equipment. The ongoing innovative research and development at UK CAER and the Department of Mining Engineering will expand upon potential revenue options in the future, providing more opportunities for Kentucky's coal country."

More information about the projects can be found at:
https://energy.gov/articles/doe-announces-69-million-research-rare-earth-elements-coal-and-coal-byproducts

 



UK CAER Receives $1M Grant for Carbon Fiber Research

clock June 23, 2017 11:55 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) received a $1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to continue their leading-edge research in developing low-cost, high-strength carbon fiber.

 

The Center’s Materials Technologies Group received the award for a project entitled “Precursor Processing Development for Low Cost, High Strength Carbon Fiber for Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel Applications.” The funding was part of DOE’s strategy to invest in discovery and development of novel, low-cost materials necessary for hydrogen storage and for fuel cells onboard light-duty vehicles.


 

The team will investigate solutions to critical issues in precursor fiber development that significantly contribute to the cost of carbon fiber, namely high polymer cost, inefficient water use and solvent recovery, low fiber throughput, energy intensive conversion, and high coefficient of variation (CV) utilizing their unique expertise and fiber development facility available at UK CAER. The Center is home to the largest carbon fiber spinline at any University in North America.

 

If successful, the project will lower the cost of high quality carbon fibers by over 50 percent, opening opportunities for widespread application of carbon fibers in previously cost-prohibited areas, specifically in composite overwrapped pressure vessels for hydrogen storage.



 

“We appreciate DOE’s confidence in our carbon fiber research and development efforts here at UK CAER,” said Matt Weisenberger, Associate Director of the Materials Technologies Group. “It is our hope that this project will show great promise for the future of carbon fiber for pressure vessels and many other commercial applications. A strong, vibrant and growing carbon fiber industry shows potential for creating new jobs and economic opportunities in Kentucky.”

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office awarded a total of 30 grants during its annual funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in 2017. The 2017 FOA solicited early-stage materials research to advance the Department’s goals of enabling economic and efficient transportation via fuel cell electric vehicles that use hydrogen fuel produced from diverse domestic resources.

More than 2,000 fuel cell vehicles have been sold or leased in the U.S. since 2015. These consume 95 percent less petroleum per mile than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, have no tailpipe emissions, and offer quiet operation.



UK CAER Student Employee One of UK's Best

clock June 13, 2017 15:52 by author Thomas

Ryan Hines, a student in UK CAER's Power Generation Group, was named one of the University of Kentucky’s top 10 student employees for 2016-17. Ryan operated the large bench CO2 capture unit for the Center. Ryan is a native of Liberty, Kentucky and is a chemical engineering major at UK.



Ryan played a critical role in conducting a performance test on UK CAER’s carbon capture bench demonstration unit, according to his colleagues.

"We conducted a performance test on our CAER-B3 solvent using our new hybrid process in large bench unit for 500 hours," said Brad Irvin, a Research Scientist Associate at UK CAER. "The hybrid process combined a traditional CO2 capture process with a CO2 pre-concentrating membrane, a new solvent blend (CAER-B3), and solid additives. This test took months to complete and we faced many difficult challenges such as maintenance and repair of the system and keeping our data quality top notch, while also meeting the DOE timelines. Ryan was instrumental in the successful completion of this experiment. His willingness to take ownership and go the extra mile kept the experiment on track and producing meaningful data."



UK CAER Researchers Publish Coal Combustion Products Book

clock June 5, 2017 14:18 by author Thomas

 



Members of the UK Center for Applied Energy Research’s Materials Technologies group have published the definitive book on coal combustion byproducts. Entitled “Coal Combustion Products (CCPs): Characteristics, Utilization and Beneficiation,” the book was edited by UK CAER’s Tom Robl and Anne Oberlink as well as their colleague and collaborator, Rod Jones. The book was published by Woodhead Publishing.




KY EPSCoR to Host NSF Grants Conference in Louisville

clock June 2, 2017 15:44 by author Thomas

Kentucky EPSCoR announced today that the National Science Foundation  Grants Conference it is hosting has quickly reached capacity. The conference will take place June 5-6, at the Hyatt Regency in Louisville.

Three hundred and twenty-five conference registrants, including 86 from Kentucky, will spend two days attending presentations and interacting with NSF staff to better understand NSF-funded research opportunities and obligations.  Attendees hope to increase their likelihood of winning research funding, complying with grant requirements and producing impactful research results.

"KY EPSCoR is pleased to be able to host the National Science Foundation in our state," said F. Richard Kurzynske, director of Kentucky’s statewide EPSCoR Program. "The KY EPSCoR Program has been the channel for over $550 million in competitively won research funding which is expanding the Commonwealth’s research infrastructure, promoting STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, mathematics. and health) education and nurturing a culture of innovation. Federal research funding fosters knowledge-based prosperity by expanding the science and engineering capabilities of Kentucky’s workforce."

Agenda items address types of NSF opportunities, proposal preparation, the award management process, financial reporting processes and related topics.

Representatives from 38 states and 144 research institutions, including the University of Kentucky as well as many of the Commonwealth’s public comprehensive universities and technical colleges, will be in attendance.

For more information, visit www.nsfgrantsconferences.com.



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."