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.

Secretary Snavely visits CAER

clock February 14, 2017 10:05 by author Thomas

UK CAER hosted Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely on Friday, February 10. It was a pleasure hearing from him and sharing the UK CAER story.


 



Weisenberger, Craddock Receive US Patent

clock February 14, 2017 09:55 by author Thomas

A breakthrough from UK CAER’s Materials Technologies Group has resulted in a U.S. Patent. Matt Weisenberger and John Craddock received the patent award for their project entitled “apparatus and method for harvesting carbon nanotube arrays.” The discovery will allow scientists to create large nanotube arrays that will play an integral role in creating high-value composite materials.




CAER hosts seminar on Textile Electronic System Design

clock February 9, 2017 15:13 by author Thomas

On Thursday, UK CAER hosted Dr. Jesse Jur, an Assistant Professor of Textile Engineering, Chemistry & Science at NC State University's College of Textiles, the global leader in textile education and research. His current research focuses on integration of systems electronics into wearable platforms for energy harvesting and monitoring of a person's environmental and physiological state.

 

 

 

The presentation reviewed activity in the NEXT (Nano-Extended Textiles) research group at NC State, focused on the use of engineering design principles to develop integration and materials strategies of electronics in textiles that are industry relevant now and novel techniques that enable future industry growth. Through the examination of those methods at a system level, an understanding of their impact and relevance can be defined and iterated for improved performance. Of particular interest is the development of sensing systems that harvest energy from the human body. The performance of the textile electronics in relation to complex human scenarios, based on the user’s activity and external environment, are assessed to understand sensing performance and self-powered strategies.



New paper published in the CCGP Journal

clock February 2, 2017 13:33 by author Alice

Effect of Coal Fly Ash Leachate on the Bioluminescence Intensity of Vibrio fischeri

Authors:  Shiro Ikeda, Irena Kostova, Hideaki Sekine, Yoshika Sekine

Coal fly ash is a residue of coal-fired thermoelectric power plants (TPPs) and is mostly dumped in ash ponds or landfill sites, even though it potentially contains significant amounts of water-soluble hazardous contaminants. Bioassay using the bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri is known to be applicable for assessing the short-term and sublethal toxicity of complex mixtures without the need for precise chemical characterization. However, this type of bioassay is potentially adversely influenced by the pH-induced protein denaturation of cells. Because coal fly ash leachates often have alkaline or acidic properties, when applying the V. fischeri–based bioassay to the samples, we need to know potential effect of the leachates on the bioluminescence of the bacteria. This study accordingly aimed to investigate the feasibility of applying the V. fischeri bioassay to coal fly ash leachate
as a screening method. Fly ash samples were collected from 12 TPPs located in three East European countries: Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia.

 

The fly ash samples were prepared in sterilized distilled water by ultrasonic extraction and filtration using 0.45-mmΦ membrane filters. The filtrates were then mixed with a solution of the test bacterium. The bioluminescence intensity was measured using a luminometer. The results showed the ostensible influence of pH on bioluminescence intensity pronounced when following the typical protocol using a 5.0‐g/L solid:liquid ratio. Accordingly, the pH of water extracts should be adjusted to within a range of 6 to 9 by dilution to observe the inhibition of bioluminescence by coal fly ash leachate as the objective endpoint.

 

The full-text of the paper may be viewed/downloaded at the Coal Combustion and Gasification Products journal website: http://www.coalcgp-journal.org/

The CCGP journal is jointly published by the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UKCAER) and the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA).



UK CAER Named to RAPID Manufacturing USA Institute

clock December 20, 2016 16:02 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) has been named a collaborator to the nation’s newest Manufacturing USA Institute. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Manufacturing Institute of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) will be the tenth Manufacturing USA Institute.

Earlier this year, DOE called for the establishment of a Manufacturing Innovation Institute on Modular Chemical Process Intensification for Clean Energy Manufacturing. AIChE developed the RAPID Institute proposal in collaboration with the Savannah River National Laboratory and the Georgia Institute of Technology. To date, RAPID has enlisted 75 companies, 34 academic institutions, 7 national laboratories, 2 other government laboratories, and 7 non-governmental organizations from all regions of the country. These partners have committed to cost shares that leverage DOE’s $70 million contribution over 5 years, with total project spending exceeding $140 million. RAPID’s partners come from energy-intensive industries and range from small to large enterprises.

This is the third Manufacturing USA Institute in which UK CAER is a member. The Center’s Power Generation Group will be working with RAPID on projects. The Center’s Materials Technologies Group is already a member of The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) and the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA).

In making the announcement at the U.S Council on Competitiveness 2016 National Competitiveness Forum, DOE Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Friedman said, “Our investment in this cross-cutting technology is an investment in the future of manufacturing in the U.S. As we expand the Manufacturing USA network, we provide greater opportunities for businesses of all sizes to solve their toughest technology challenges and unleash major savings in energy-intensive sectors like oil and gas, pulp and paper-making and other industries.” 

“The RAPID team is thrilled and energized by DOE’s decision,” said RAPID Chief Executive Officer Karen Fletcher. “We are confident we can meet DOE’s goals of reduced energy usage and feedstock waste, and improved productivity, through our focus on integrating unit processes into single modular hardware elements that are cost effective, with high efficiency and scalability.” 

AIChE Executive Director June Wispelwey said that RAPID’s ability to address the process intensification challenge “builds on AIChE’s decades of experience managing technical centers,” such as the Center for Chemical Process Safety. She explained that “our RAPID partners, especially our national laboratory partners like Savannah River, each bring unique areas of expertise in process intensification,” ranging from separations, catalysis and transport processes, to kinetics and reaction engineering, to bear on this important manufacturing challenge.

Wispelwey emphasized that RAPID will work closely with the other Manufacturing USA Institutes, which have common goals but distinct concentrations, to assure cooperation and share approaches to commercializing “step-change” innovations. To that end, she said AIChE will use its substantial educational resources to train students and the workforce in the application of the new modular process intensification tools. She also stressed that, before undertaking this challenge, she made sure that there are solid plans for RAPID to become financially self-sustaining within the five years of DOE’s support.



UK Battery Researcher Featured on UK REVEAL

clock December 8, 2016 12:26 by author Thomas

UK Chemistry Professor Susan Odom -- an associate faculty member at UK CAER as well as assistant professor at the UK College of Arts and Sciences -- was recently featured in a UK REVEAL piece. Her work in electrochemical storage, especially battery safety, is explained.

The article can be read on UK REVEAL's site, here: http://uknow.uky.edu/research/reveal-research-media-uk%E2%80%99s-susan-odom-pioneers-research-advanced-batteries



UK CAER's John Craddock joins UK Office of Special Projects Administration

clock December 6, 2016 09:31 by author Thomas

UK CAER's John Craddock has taken on a new challenge at UK. He joined UK's Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (OSPA) staff, under the auspices of the Vice President for Research, with the goal of proactively streamlining compliance for UK investigators seeking funding that may be regulated by export control laws.

 

Full article here: http://uknow.uky.edu/research/research-support-export-control-john-craddock



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 Researcher Presents at Biorefining Conference

clock November 16, 2016 10:56 by author Thomas

John Jennings, a scientist working in the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's Environmental Catalysis Group, recently presented a poster at the "Frontiers in Biorefining 2016" conference. Held at St. Simons Island, GA, Frontiers in Biorefining is the 4th International Conference on Chemicals and Products from Renewable Carbon, hosted by the University of Tennessee Center for Renewable Carbon and the Southeastern Regional Sun Grant Center. Mr. Jenning's poster focused on the use of lignin, and was titled "Tin Beta Zeolite for Regioselective Baeyer-Villiger Oxidation of Lignin Model Compounds".



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.



CAER 101 comes to Cardinal Valley Elementary School

clock October 13, 2016 09:28 by author Thomas

UK CAER scientist Robby Pace provided a CAER 101 lesson by Lexington's Cardinal Valley Elementary School on Wednesday.

The CAER 101 project brings together scientists and children in a classroom setting. The scientists create lessons for local 4th and 5th graders, allowing them the opportunity to learn about energy science concepts, hands-on. Helping to make math and science fun and relevant to the next generation of Kentuckians is a major focus for UK CAER.



UK CAER Job Opening - Programmer

clock October 12, 2016 14:43 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research is seeking a Programmer System Analyst (Senior). This position is responsible for design and implement schema changes of a large operational database. The ideal applicant must have the ability to change and create forms and system improvements to meet staff needs. It requires programming the Microsoft NET framework, as well as occasional on mobile development using Microsoft tools. This position supports end users with any issues arising from the database, or any of the database related software including installation or provisioning the department’s desktops, laptops or tablets with the front-end software needed to access the database, along with ODBC, DSNentries, etc.

 

This position will work 2 days at the Center’s support office in Frankfort for support of programming and databases and 3 days at the Center for Applied Energy Research facility in Lexington.

The job posting can be found on UKJobs here: https://ukjobs.uky.edu/postings/126218

 

 



Edrington Takes Second Place in Poster Competition

clock September 15, 2016 08:46 by author Thomas

UK CAER’s Sarah Edrington, a mechanical engineering graduate student at UK, placed second in the graduate category at the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition's student poster competition. Sarah was recognized for her poster entitled: “PAN Precursor Draw During Spinning: Effects on Mechanical Properties and Morphology of Resultant Carbon Fiber.” Sarah, who does research as part of CAER’s Carbon Materials Group, will continue her work with PAN carbon fiber precursor spinning as part of her thesis.




Workshop to Focus on Issues with Ponded Coal Combustion Products

clock September 13, 2016 11:34 by author Thomas

The UK Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER), American Coal Ash Association (ACAA), and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are co-hosting a workshop this November to shine a spotlight on current issues with coal combustion products (CCPs).

The Midwest Workshop on Current Issues in Ponded CCPs will be held November 1-2 at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront.

The workshop will feature some of the world’s leading experts on coal combustion products. For a full list of speakers and to register for the event, check out the following website: http://www.worldofcoalash.org/ash/.

 (photo courtesy of Moretrench)



UK Center for Applied Energy Research Awarded Four Patents

clock September 6, 2016 14:48 by author Thomas

UK CAER researchers received four patents in August, out of a schoolwide-total of seven:

  • Darrell Taulbee and Robert Hodgen for “Enhancement of binding characteristics for production of an agglomerated product” (#9,428,705)
  • Steve Lipka and Christopher Schwartz for “Hybrid flow battery and Mn/Mn electrolyte system” (#9,413,025)
  • Joseph Remais, Cameron Lippert, and Kunlei Liu for “Method of increasing mass transfer rate of acid gas scrubbing solvents” (#9,409,125)
  • Kunlei Liu, Reynold Frimpong, and Kun Liu for “Hybrid process using a membrane to enrich flue gas CO2 with a solvent-based post-combustion CO2 capture system” (#9,409,120)

 These patents join the more than three-dozen patents already held by CAER researchers over the years.



UKCAER Alumnus Gives Talk on Patent Law

clock September 1, 2016 16:33 by author Alice

Dr. Rakesh Mehta (PhD, JD) from BakerHostetler located in Philadelphia, discussed patent law with University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research scientists and engineers. His specialty is chemical, materials, pharmaceutical, and mechanical patents. The title of his presentation was Patents Deconstructed—The What, the Why, the If, the When. He stated that confusion prevails when it comes to patents. If we can help deconstruct what patenting is, all will have gained something.

Rakesh Mehta is an alumnus of not only University of Kentucky, but also of CAER. His MS in 1994 was under CAER’s Dr. B.K. Parekh and PhD was under Dr. Kalika, chair of UK Chemical and Materials, in 1996. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship from Virginia Tech in 1997 under Dr. James McGrath in polymeric composites and joined DuPont as Research Engineer, where he spent seven years at the famous DuPont Experimental Station. He completed his JD simultaneously while working at DuPont and since 2004, has been practicing law, particularly intellectual property, first in Washington DC and then in Philadelphia area law firms. Currently, he is a Counsel at Baker Hostetler LLP, an AMLAW 100 firm with fourteen offices and about 950 lawyers.



UK CAER focus of CN2 feature

clock August 22, 2016 10:08 by author Thomas

 

Article - http://mycn2.com/politics/center-for-applied-research-focuses-on-kentucky-s-future-energy-needs-and-resources

 

CN|2's Don Weber covered the Kentucky Legislature's Special Subcommittee on Energy's meeting at the University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research. Following a business meeting where CAER Director Rodney Andrews gave a presentation on the Center's mission and activities in the past and in coming years, the group toured CAER's labs and grounds. There, legislators -- and Mr. Weber -- met with CAER scientists to get an up-close look at the operations there.

 

 



Center for Applied Energy Research Hosts Kentucky Energy Subcommittee

clock August 19, 2016 14:32 by author Thomas

 

The UK Center for Applied Energy Research hosted members of Kentucky’s Special Subcommittee on Energy on Friday for an update on Center’s research and development activities. The Subcommittee, comprised of members of both the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives, heard a UK CAER presentation from Director Rodney Andrews and toured the Center’s research facilities.

 



UK CAER Staff Member Spends Summer Spinning Webs

clock August 17, 2016 09:05 by author Thomas

Ashley Morris, a senior research engineer in the UK Center for Applied Energy Research’s Materials Technologies Group, has spent the summer in the Bay Area serving as Interim Director of Fiber Spinning for synthetic spider silk startup, Bolt Threads.

Morris honed her skills over the past 8 years while developing UK CAER’s world class solution spinning line and has become an expert in the field of solution spinning (often used for the production of acrylic fibers, which can then be converted into carbon fiber). That experience provided her an opportunity to spend the summer at Bolt Threads, a venture backed startup producing synthetic spider silk, which is known to be five times stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar.

Bolt’s scientists use recombinant technology to modify the genetic code of spider genes that make silk proteins and insert them into a strain of yeast. Fed with sugar and water and left to ferment, the yeast expresses the spider silk protein, which is then spun into fibers and converted into yarns for textiles. The company can tune the properties of the silk, making it, for example, “stretchier” or stronger, based on the genes inserted into the yeast.

Founded in 2009 and based in Emeryville, California, Bolt recently announced a partnership with Patagonia to develop goods from their proprietary spider silk-inspired fibers and textiles.

“Bolt Threads has offered me a terrific opportunity to work alongside some of the world’s top scientists and engineers in the field of biotechnology,” said Morris. “I am thankful for the opportunity to showcase leadership and technical skills gained at UK in a fast-paced startup environment, and the overall experience has made me a better researcher.”