To promote young women in science, CAER staff spent a day mentoring two female high school students. Simone Stigall (front left) and Alex Raines (front right) job shadowed Liz Ware (back left) and Anne Oberlink recently. They learned about biofuels and low energy cement. Several of the lab's female researchers and college students joined them for lunch and discussions regarding careers in science.
Congratulations to Teresa Epperson (left front), Theresa Wiley (right front), Jim Hower (left second row), and Wayne Pettit for receiving 30 and 35 year service awards from UK.
When the UK Center for Applied Energy Research’s renewable energy laboratory building opened a year ago, it was with energy conservation in mind. A year’s worth of data shows a total energy reduction of 55% compared to a typical laboratory building its size. This is not estimated, but an actual savings based on the utility bills. This took a team commitment from design to operations. Much of the conservation took place after the completion of the building by operating and maintaining the building to achieve these savings.
To illustrate this cost savings magnitude, last year the utility costs of the original CAER building (erected in 1977) was $258,694 ($4.88 per square foot). The new building’s utility cost was $111,181 ($2.58 per square foot). This is a difference of $147,000 per year in utility savings that can be directed towards research rather than building consumption.
Part of the energy reduction is accomplished by energy-saving features throughout the building, including an exterior and roof with twice the amount of insulation normally used. Office windows receive southern-directional light and contain a nanogel material that diffuses sunlight and provides the same insulation as brick walls. Among other features are geothermal heating and cooling, occupancy sensors that turn off lights automatically when no one is there, and a ventilation system that recaptures energy.
The original engineers (CMTA Engineering Consultants) are now studying trends in the building and believe that there are opportunities to reduce energy consumption even further.
At the recent 23rd North American Catalysis Society conference, Burt Davis received a joint award from the group and the Tri-State Catalysis Society (TSCS) for his Fifty Years of Dedicated Service to the Catalysis Society and his Documenting and Archiving the History of Catalysis. As the current president of TSCS, CAER's Uschi Graham had the pleasure of presenting the award.
Kunlei Liu (CAER Associate Director) presented John Moffett (LG&E Manager Research & Development) a CAER Distinguished Service Award upon his upcoming retirement from LG&E. John was instrumental in the formation of the CMRG (Carbon Management Research Group), a consortium of Kentucky's major power companies and CAER. The group is carrying out a $24M ten-year program of research to development and is demonstrating cost-effective and practical technologies for reducing and managing CO2 in existing coal-fired electric power plants.
Electrochemistry expert Steve Lipka is one of the early grantees in the recently announced UK-GE master agreement to collaborate on research projects. This partnership could yield research towards inventing future appliances.
The record-breaking 23rd Meeting of the North American Catalysis Society got off on a fast track at an opening reception at Churchill Downs this month. A large portion of the successful conference was organized by University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy catalysis scientists.
This biennial meeting, with its large international participation, is the premier scientific event in the field of catalysis. The Tri-State Catalysis Society hosted the 23rd North American Meeting (NAM) in Louisville and this event surpassed all previous NAMs with 1,300 attendees, 54 exhibitors, 400 oral presentations, 600 posters, $278K in general sponsorship from 38 sponsors, and $75K in Kokes awards to enable students to participate in the meeting.
CAER researcher Uschi Graham was the co-meeting chair, along with Umit Ozkan (The Ohio State) and Madan Bhasin (MATRIC). CAER Associate Director Burt Davis was the honorary chair; and CAER researcher Gary Jacobs chaired the Kokes Student Award Committee.
CAER researchers Anne Oberlink and Liz Harman-Ware reached out to high school girls at the EKU Girls’ STEM Day recently. The scientists were accompanied by two high girls who recently toured CAER. STEM practitioners and educators led girls through activities that mirror real-world STEM tasks and highlight creative and innovative problem solving. Anne and Liz exhibited and served as mentors.
Anne (left) and Liz
The Cooperative Research Network and the Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation research organizations held task force meetings at CAER. Both of these organizations are created to perform research and solve problems for the electric utility industry. The CRN’s members are the Rural Electric Cooperatives and the task force that met at CAER is the Generation, Fuels and Environment Group. CEATI is a similar group made up of international utilities. A portion of their time was also spent in presentations on CAER research and an in depth tour.
Elementary, middle school, and high school students from around the area monitored building efficiency, saw how fresh flowers can freeze quickly via liquid nitrogen, and discovered that algae is not just pond scum during tours of CAER this spring.
The students hailed from Russell Cave Elementary, which celebrates its decade long partnership with CAER this year; Clark County Middle School through its partnership with Bluegrass PRIDE; and a group of female high school students from Fayette County’s “Green Team.”
There were around 150 students in total. While the tours were more detailed to suit the groups’ grade level, all seemed fascinated by the science. The students were impressed when told that the newest building on CAER’s research campus uses around 60 percent of the energy for a regular building its size. They were equally as enthralled with the idea that algae could be used to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
In addition to the demonstrations, researchers discussed their backgrounds, education, careers, and the need for future energy experts.
Michelle Johnston and Trent Garrison, MS & PhD students, respectively, in Earth & Environmental Sciences and doing their research in the CAER's Applied Petrology Lab, received awards from the Geological Society of America's Coal Geology Division. Michelle is the recipient of the GSA Coal Division’s Antoinette Lierman Medlin Lab/Analytical Research Award. The selection is for her work to characterize the coal macerals and ultimately understanding of peat accumulation and depositional environment for the Leatherwood coal. The amount of the award is $1,500.
Trent is the recipient of the GSA Coal Division’s Antoinette Lierman Medlin Field Award for his work to examine water quality impacts in area of coal fires. The amount of the award is $1,000. This is the second time that CAER petrology students have won both Medlin Awards. Jen O'Keefe and Sarah Mardon swept the awards in 2006.
This year's Sustainability Expo took place at Locust Trace Agriscience Farm, a local Fayette County public school that focuses on agricultural resources and the environment. CAER participated with staff explaining energy sustainability to children from the school.
On March second Marsha Grimminger, of the Electrochemistry Group, designed questions related to a science challenge geared toward high school chemistry students for Bluegrass Community and Technical College's Regional Science Olympiad. They were not told of the specific topic before the event. The 18 students collected data through experimentation and compared results.
Petrologist Jim Hower and Eastern Kentucky Regional Coordinator Greg Copley are assisting Jon Thorson, UK Pharmacy, in locating and sampling extreme environments in Kentucky. Such sites include soils associated with coal mine fires; waters associated with swamps, sulfur springs, acid mine drainage; and the spoils from lead and zinc mining. Thorson’s research group is hoping to isolate previously unknown antibiotics and other drugs from microorganisms in the environment. Recent sampling took place in Owen and Henry Counties.
Here Madan Kharel (Pharmacy) is obtaining a sample while CAER's John Hiett stands ready to assist.
Congratulations to Rachel Hatch, M.S. candidate, who was just awarded a $2,000 graduate student grant from the Geological Society of America for her proposal entitled: “Effects of petroleum hydrocarbon exposure following the Deepwater Horizon spill on tidal marsh sedimentary and biological processes: An investigation using radioisotopes and benthic foraminifera.”
Rachel worked in the petrology lab for two years as an undergraduate.
Turner Construction Company, a general contractor firm based in Lexington, was recognized for its construction manager involvement with the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) Renwable Energy Research Lab. The construction of the new 43,000 square foot, high-performance laboratory will lower operation costs of CAER, while increasing education about the numerous energy technologies implemented in the building.
Four local high school students who were mentored by University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research scientists have proved experience gain by working in laboratories with mentors is invaluable.
Valerie Sarge, a junior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, placed first in the Energy and Transportation category at the Central Kentucky Regional Science and Engineering Fair, going on to win first place in the same category at the state competition. This qualifies her to go on to Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) to be held in Phoenix. Valerie was mentored by Chemistry Professor/CAER Faculty Associate, John Anthony. In her work with the solar energy group she is using organic compounds called furan-based materials. These can be derived from agricultural waste products to create new semiconductors for use in low-cost solar cells. She is has been working on synthesis, but may soon move toward creating solar cells.
Will Kimmerer, a ninth grader at Sayre School, won top awards at the regional and state fairs in the Environmental Science category, including second in the Physical Sciences category. Kimmerer is interested in water purification and obtained carbon material samples for use in his project from CAER working closely with Director Rodney Andrews during the project. He was selected for the I-SWEEP 2013 conference (International Sustainable World Energy Engineering Environment Project) in Houston, where he will present his work. Additionally, he was selected for the Stockholm Junior Water Award.
Additionally, two Dunbar CAER interns placed well at the regional level and went on to compete at the state competition. Rohin Lohe placed first in the "Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering" category, and went on to place third at the state competition. Lohe will compete at the Kentucky Junior Academy of Sciences on April 27th. John Luan also won in the “Energy and Transportation” category at regionals.
Matt Weisenberger, Associate Director for Carbon Materials, is mentoring Lohe with a project titled "Finite Element Analysis of Heat Conduction through Interfaces: Modeling and Experimental Verification with Stainless Steel, Copper, and Multiwall Carbon Nanotube Arrays as Thermal Interface Materials." Lohe has been conducting his research at the UK CAER laboratory facilities and working directly with the Carbon Materials Research staff in completing the tests.
Finally, Lohe’s project included part of the expertise gained while working with CAER’s Electrochemical Power Sources group under the direction of Associate Director Steve Lipka. John is working on a project entitled “Carbon-based Capacitive Thin Films for AC Line Filtering” in which the goal is to demonstrate whether carbon-based supercapacitors can be used as a lower-cost, more-dependable replacement for traditional electrolytic capacitors in electronic devices.
Congratulations to CAER graduate student Liz Ware-Harmon. She won first prize for a student poster at the 2013 Workshop on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Louisville at the KY International Convention Center. It was hosted by the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the University of Louisville. The paper was titled,"Pyrolysis-GC/MS Characterization of Bioenergy Crops," and was co-authored with Mark Crocker and Seth Debolt.
CAER researcher Robert Pace also presented a poster titled, "Qualitative Evaluation of Biomass Solubility Trends Among Dialkyl Imidazolium Chloride Ionic Liquids: A Microscopy Based Approach." It was co-authored by Mark Crocker, Samuel A. Morton III, Andrew J. Placido, Andrew R. Sharits (There were no awards given in the professional category.)
The University of Kentucky helped to support this meeting.