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 CAER Grant Seeks to Reduce Carbon Capture Costs

clock May 22, 2018 14:25 by author Thomas

 

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) received a $3.7 million United States Department of Energy (DOE) grant to develop an intensified process to significantly reduce the capital and operational costs associated with CO2 capture.

This project, funded through DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, is entitled, "A Process with Decoupling Absorber Kinetics and Solvent Regeneration through Membrane Dewatering and In-Column Heat Transfer." James Landon, a Principal Research Engineer at UK CAER, and Kunlei Liu, Associate Director for Research, are co-principal investigators on this grant.

 

The project will investigate the intensification of amine-based CO2 capture from coal-fired power plants to reduce the capital and operational cost associated with CO2 capture through the use of innovative packing materials to enhance CO2 absorption into the solvent, dewatering of rich solution prior to stripper to reduce solvent regeneration energy, and heat integration to lower the steam requirements of the process. This technology will be demonstrated at the bench-scale at UK CAER through modification to the Center's coal-fired 0.1 MWth post-combustion carbon capture unit.

"The successful development of the proposed technology will allow for the utilization of abundant, low-cost coal to produce reliable electricity, while affordably meeting and managing environmental concerns," said Dr. Liu..

Enabling low-energy and low-cost carbon dioxide capture units is critical in the development of advanced coal-based power generation facilities. The research investigated through this project as well as the collaborations and integration of process components will help improve carbon capture technology available to utility companies. This process could be applied to most advanced solvents (aqueous or non-aqueous) and flue gas derived from either coal or natural gas combustion.

"If successful, this project could significantly change how we capture carbon," said Dr. Landon. "Creating an integrated process that captures CO2 while utilizing less energy in that process is critical to ensuring commercial scale carbon capture technology becomes a reality. This research is the next step in that technological continuum."

Project collaborators include the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Media and Process Technology, Smith Management Group, and Trimeric. 

 



Federal Funding to Expand UK CAER Carbon Capture Research

clock May 2, 2018 11:39 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research was one of nine organizations selected to receive Phase I funding of a three-phase project as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fossil Fuel Large-Scale Pilot program.

UK CAER will receive over $940,000 from DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to advance its world-renowned carbon dioxide capture research and development.

According to principal investigator Kunlei Liu, this Phase I funding will allow UK CAER to advance its four-pronged CO2 capture system to a 10 megawatt scale. UK CAER’s Power Generation Research Group is a global leader in building, developing and demonstrating post-combustion carbon capture systems. In fact, UK CAER’s current 0.7 megawatt small pilot CO2 capture facility operates at Kentucky Utilities’ E.W. Brown Generating Station in Burgin, Kentucky has led to scientific and engineering breakthroughs in the field.



This new federal funding will allow UK CAER to advance that research by nearly ten times, leaving the technology only one step away from commercialization. 

“This project will allow us to leverage the unique carbon dioxide capture expertise we have developed at UK CAER over the past decade to tackle a new and exciting next step in its implementation,” said Heather Nikolic, a Principal Research Engineer at UK CAER.

The Center’s post-combustion system features modular equipment and free-standing columns with built-in advanced controls to continually minimize the CO2 capture energy penalty while responding to a dynamic external demand. The new system will combine several facets to simultaneously address capital cost, energy consumption, load change, and environmental impact.

“I often remind our team that this project would not be possible without the many partners who have assisted us and collaborated with our researchers over the years,” said Dr. Liu, Associate Director for Research at UK CAER and Associate Professor in UK’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “This project is another great example of that. In addition to our colleagues at DOE, we will be partnering with several institutions and industry partners to ensure success.”

Project collaborators include LG&E and Kentucky Utilities, Carbon Clean Solutions, University of Texas-Austin, Membrane Technology Research, Electric Power Research Institute, Huaneng Clean Energy Research Institute, Koch Modular Process Systems, Worley Parsons, and Smith Management Group.

“UK CAER has made many contributions to the scientific and engineering community, including through efforts to advance clean coal and carbon capture technologies, which are very important to Kentucky,' said Senator McConnell. 'The University of Kentucky, under the leadership of President Eli Capilouto, continues to do impressive work on this issue, and I've been told its current carbon capture project is already producing results. I look forward to seeing what UK CAER is able to accomplish with these new federal resources.”



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 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."



CAER Receives $3 million for Carbon Capture Research

clock October 1, 2013 10:31 by author Marybeth McAlister

CAER is working to advance technology to capture carbon dioxide from new and existing coal-burning power plants, funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory, part of the DOE Office of Fossil Energy, has selected the UK Center for Applied Energy Research for the three-year, $3 million project.

The announcement comes on the heels of regulations proposed Sept. 20 by the Environmental Protection Agency to sharply reduce carbon emissions from new power plants. This development presents serious challenges to the coal industry, which currently lacks cost-effective technology that would enable it to comply with the proposed lower limits.

"Technologies for carbon capture, utilization and storage will be crucial in sustaining coal as a viable fuel under increasing carbon constraints," said CAER Director Rodney Andrews. "The technology is feasible, but it is not yet ready for full-scale implementation. That's why this project is so important." 

The CAER project will advance the DOE's goal of having technology available by 2020 that can achieve a 90-percent carbon dioxide capture rate, at a cost of $40 per metric ton of carbon dioxide captured.

A major cost associated with commercial carbon dioxide capture is the size of the "scrubber" needed to handle the volume of flue gas produced by a power plant. CAER has developed a catalyst to speed up the absorption rate of the solvent used, so the scrubber can be much smaller. Overall, the CAER technology could reduce the cost of carbon dioxide capture by 56 percent, compared to the current DOE reference case.

Research and development by CAER will enable efficient, cost-effective implementation of carbon capture throughout the power generation sector and ensure that the United States and other nations will continue to have access to safe, reliable, and affordable energy from fossil fuels, Andrews said.

"These essential factors of production, in turn, have and will continue to drive industrial growth, raising personal incomes, higher standards of living, and an improved quality of life," he said.

DOE's investment is $2,966,957, in addition to cost share of $242,615 from UK and $499,675 from the Carbon Management Research Group, an industry-based research consortium with membership consisting of AEP, Duke, EPRI, LGE-KU and the state’s Department of Energy Development and Independence. Kunlei Liu, CAER associate director for research, will serve as the university’s principal investigator.

UK President Eli Capilouto commended researchers at CAER for tackling head-on the "questions of efficiency, sustainability and utilization," raised by the global energy debate.

“Our researchers, in partnership with the Department of Energy and the Carbon Management Research Group, are reaching new discoveries that can transform the Kentucky and national energy economy,” he said.