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.

Tour of UK CAER Algae Greenhouse by University of Pikeville Individuals

clock November 18, 2014 21:09 by author Alice
A tour was given by Jack Groppo of the UK CAER Algae Greenhouse and Renewable Building Lab 2 biofuels lab to several very interested individuals from the University of Pikeville and Asbury University. They were part of the Kentucky Academy of Sciences annual meeting and took some time to tour the CAER facilities to learn more about algae/biofuels research and utilization.


Distinguished “West Virginian Award” presented to Dr. Burtron H. Davis

clock November 17, 2014 15:05 by author Alice

Following Governor Tomblin’s 2014 Energy Summit, which took place at the Stonewall Resort on October 23-24, West Virginia’s Governor Earl Ray Tomblin presented Dr. Burtron H. Davis with the “Distinguished West Virginian Award.” The Governor applauded Dr. Davis while declaring that the award represents the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a person from West Virginia for outstanding achievement and meritorious service. Senator Joe Manchin was also present during the celebration as well as Jeff Herholdt, Director of the West Virginia Division of Energy.

Depicted from left to right:  

Governor Tomblin, Dr. Burt Davis, Senator Joe Manchin and Director Jeff Herholdt. 



Shifting Lines: Kentucky's Changing Energy Landscape

clock November 17, 2014 15:01 by author Alice

Please check out “Shifting Lines: Kentucky’s Changing Energy Landscape,” our new mini-documentary that explores the changes in our state's energy production and the implications of those changes on Kentucky’s economy. Stay tuned for a feature-length version coming in early 2015.​​​​




Tekcrete Fast Demonstration

clock November 13, 2014 10:27 by author Alice

Tekcrete applied to two portland cement beams and one water pipe.On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, along with their commercialization partner Orica USA, headed down to College Station, Texas to demonstrate the commercial product, Tekcrete Fast, and its delivery system. This research was supported by funding provided by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, Science & Technology Directorate, through a technology development and deployment program managed by The National Institute for Hometown Security. 

Tekcrete Fast is a rapidly setting, high strength gunite mix that can be used by rescue personnel to help protect them as they work at a disaster site. It also affords protection to victims trapped in damaged buildings, guarding them against potential collapse and additional harm.

The system is composed of a delivery vehicle capable of concreting or grouting prepackaged fiber reinforced cements, mortars and micro- aggregated concretes that are strong and rapidly setting. A range of compositions of cements have been tested that demonstrate high compressive and bonding strengths after only five hours of curing and structural strength in as little as 15 minutes.    

The demonstration consisted of three damaged Portland concrete beams set in the ground in a vertical manner, to replicate damaged structural beams, as well as a damaged water pipe. Tekcrete Fast was sprayed to repair those damaged items, and then tested three hours later. The beams were placed in a compressive strength machine, and compressed until a failure point was reached. It was concluded that the Portland concrete beams broke outside of the damaged areas where the Tekcrete Fast was sprayed, meaning the Tekcrete Fast was stronger than the actual Portland concrete beams themselves.

The UK CAER Environmental and Coal Technologies research group scientists involved in the demo were Tom Robl, Anne Oberlink, and Bob Jewell.



Algae Industry Magazine Picks up Story about UK CAER Algae Project

clock November 13, 2014 10:17 by author Alice
The Algae Industry Magazine.com website added a story about the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's algae project at the Duke power plant. The video put together by the local news station was picked up by the magazine.

About half of the electricity produced in the United States comes from coal fire power plants like the Duke Energy East Bend Station in Boone County, Kentucky. Unlike almost all of the others, this plant is trapping its exhaust gas and using it to grow algae. The University of Kentucky and Duke have partnered on this project, which is currently at pilot level. “We’ve made jet fuel, and we’ve made renewable diesel fuel,” said Biofuels Research Engineer Michael Wilson, with the University of Kentucky.



New Positions Available from UK CAER PowerGen Research Group

clock November 12, 2014 19:06 by author Alice
Two new positions have been posted from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's Power Generation Research group. A CO2 Capture Chemical Engineer is being sought as well as a Post Doc in Chemical Looping Combustion and Gasification.

For more information, check the PowerGen web section under the JOBS tab: http://www.caer.uky.edu/powergen/home.shtml.


PostDoc Researcher CO2 Capture Solvent Position is Open at UK CAER

clock October 24, 2014 15:40 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (@UKCAER) is looking for an individual to fill a position/job for CO2 capture solvent and degradation and analysis. The successful candidate will develop test methods to identify and quantify solvent degradation products including nitrosamines as related CO2 capture processes. Other responsibilities will include developing gas phase sampling and analytical methodologies.

The position requires a Ph.D. in chemistry, chemical engineering or environmental science from an accredited college or university. Other degrees will be considered assuming relevant experience. Prior experience in solvent degradation, gas phase sampling and analytical method development using a variety of instrumentation is highly desirable.

More Information


November 2014 Eastern Unconventional Oil & Gas Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky

clock October 16, 2014 10:36 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research and the UK Kentucky Geological Survey are collaborating for an inaugural symposium focusing on unconventional oil and gas in the Eastern US.

The Eastern Unconventional Oil and Gas Symposium ("EUOGS," http://www.euogs.org/) is being held in Lexington, Kentucky, November 5-7, 2014. The symposium seeks to address a broad range of upstream and downstream issues related to energy production from emerging resources in the northeast United States.

To register for the EUOGS event. http://www.euogs.org/register.html

The agenda/schedule can be found on the website: http://www.euogs.org/agenda.html



Renewable Energy -- Opportunities and Limitations - PEIK Seminar

clock October 16, 2014 10:35 by author Alice
PEIK Seminar: October 17, 2:00pm, Worsham theater: "Renewable Energy -- Opportunities and Limitations"

The Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK) in conjunction with the IEEE Power and Energy Society Lexington Chapter, is holding a seminar: Friday, October 17 at 2:00 pm (Please note different location)

Seminar Title: “Renewable Energy - Opportunities and Limitations”
Speaker: Dr. David Link, Manager of R&D, LG&E/KU
Date: Friday, October 17, 2014, 2pm, Worsham Theater, Student Center Addition, University of Kentucky

Please join us for the seminar. All faculty, students, staff, and visitors are welcome at the seminar.

More information on PEIK seminars can be found at http://www.engr.uky.edu/power/seminars/ .

(Professional Engineers and others who want Professional Development Hours can receive 1 PDH for the PEIK seminar. Participants wanting to receive PDH certificates should sign in at the seminar, and certificates will be emailed to them.)


Are high energy costs and unreliable power affecting your bottom line?

clock October 16, 2014 10:26 by author Alice
Sign up today for one of two Kentucky CHP Workshops in November to learn how a Combined Heat and Power system could help your business lower costs, improve power reliability and enhance environmental performance.

The CHP Workshops will provide:
  • An overview of CHP technologies
  • Types of systems available
  • Fuel options
  • Utility rates and regulations
  • Financing options and incentives
  • Policies and permit requirements
PLUS, you can get the facts about CHP in a Q&A session with end users and learn how to request a No Cost CHP assessment of your facility.

CHP End-Users Workshops
November 6, 2014 – Bowling Green, KY
Western Kentucky University
Knicely Conference Center, Room 112
2355 Nashville Road
Bowling Green, KY 42104
9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST
Registration deadline is November 3 for the Bowling Green workshop.

November 13, 2014 – Richmond, KY
Eastern Kentucky University
Quad A, Perkins Building
521 Lancaster Avenue
Richmond, KY 40475-3102
9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST
Registration deadline is November 6 for the Richmond workshop.

Register Today!

The cost to attend is $30 which includes continental breakfast, lunch and all workshop materials. Pre-registration is required. No walk-in registrations can be accepted.

The Kentucky CHP Workshops are sponsored by the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers – KAM; the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet – EEC; the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center – KPPC; the U.S. Department of Energy – State Energy Program and the DOE Southeast CHP Technical Assistance Partnership.


Rodney Andrews, UK CAER Director, Speaks at 2014 Governor's Conference

clock October 16, 2014 10:14 by author Alice
Dr. Rodney Andrews was a panel speaker for the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Proposed Regulations session at the 38th Governor's Conference of Energy and the Environment - The Changing Landscapes in Kentucky - in Lexington, Kentucky - October 8, 2014.

Dr. Andrews is the Director of the University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research. He told the audience that carbon emissions are a global issue and other countries are increasing their fossil fuel use even as the U.S. is considering policies to cut back on the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. The EPA GHG proposed regulations will have a huge impact on low income families across the country and in Eastern Kentucky. And, the EPA's proposed Greenhouse Regulations is a case of policy getting ahead of technology.



Governor Conference Attendees Tour UK CAER

clock October 16, 2014 09:55 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research recently offered a tour to attendees from the 2014 Governor's Conference on Energy and the Environment. CAER investigates energy technologies to improve the environment. Researchers contribute to technically sound policies related to fossil and renewable energy.

Tour participants learned about coal beneficiation, utilization and conversion process technologies; fuel use; coal combustion by-products; engineered fuels; derivation of high added-value materials and chemicals; and renewable energy such as biofuels and bioenergy, electrochemistry, solar energy and environmental remediation.



Bob Jewell, UK CAER CCP Researcher, is Chosen for Newly-Formed NAMAB

clock October 2, 2014 18:52 by author Alice
Robert Jewell, research scientist for environmental and coal technologies at the Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), University of Kentucky has been chosen to serve on the National Ash Management Advisory Board. The NAMAB is a newly formed advisory panel of independent experts that will provide valuable input from an outside perspective on Duke Energy's strategy around permanent coal ash storage solutions and other challenges related to the management of coal combustion products.

Bob has more than 10 years of working with ash ponds, ash sampling and ash beneficiation, and is an expert in the geology and geochemistry of ash having also taught sessions at various CAER-sponsored ash workshops.



The panel includes some of the nation's most respected experts in engineering, waste management, environmental science and risk analysis. They will provide independent and objective analysis of the issues Duke Energy and the industry face when identifying safe, environmentally sound and permanent storage solutions for coal ash. NAMAB is managed by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), and led by Dr. John Daniels, P.E., professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the university.


UK CAER Staffers Learn How to More Efficiently Use Swagelok

clock October 2, 2014 18:21 by author Alice

Swagelok Indiana representative Mike Sallee gave a hands-on seminar for the UK Center for Applied Energy Research's Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis (BEC) research group on Thursday September 25th . The presentation was entitled “Swagelok Tube Fitting Installation and Safety” and was the second annual event hosted by the BEC group. These events are as valuable to expert Swagelok users as researchers working with Swagelok for the very first time. The goal is that we use their products correctly to optimize safety as well as economics.


DEDI Creates Map of Kentucky Energy Bills as Percentage of Household Income

clock September 10, 2014 15:25 by author Alice
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet's Department for Energy Development and Independence has created a cool and interesting map detailing Kentucky residents' energy bills and what percentage of that is used for their household income. Take a look at DEDI's YouTube Video page to see all the details.


Electrochemical Energy Storage PostDoc Position Now Available

clock September 5, 2014 14:17 by author Alice

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (#UKCAER) is looking for an individual to fill a new POSTDOCTORAL SCHOLAR position (#job) to is related to various aspects of research in the synthesis and characterization of materials for electrochemical energy storage and conversion technologies.  Individuals with a Ph.D in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science or related filed are encouraged to apply.  

 

More information can be found on the UK CAER Electrochemical Power Sources research web section.



Powering the Kentucky Bioeconomy for a Sustainable Future - Press Conference

clock September 2, 2014 10:40 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky announced a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation on Wednesday (8-27-14) at a news conference attended by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, State Rep. Rocky Adkins, UK President Eli Capilouto, and leaders from several other Kentucky universities.

Kentucky was one of six jurisdictions chosen to receive a five-year Research Infrastructure Improvement Track 1 award from the NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). An additional $4 million in matching funds comes from Kentucky EPSCoR, which receives funding from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, bringing total funding for the project to $24 million.

Kentucky's project, titled "Powering the Kentucky Bioeconomy for a Sustainable Future," provides a major upgrade to the Commonwealth's research infrastructure, with targeted investments at 10 Kentucky research and higher-education institutions. Its principal investigator is Rodney Andrews, director of the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research.

"These investments will increase the number of students pursuing science and engineering careers, provide new state-of-the-art infrastructure that allows our institutions to continue to innovate and provide solutions for the energy needs of the Commonwealth, and to develop technologies that will result in jobs in the areas of our state most impacted by the changing energy landscape," Andrews said.

- Watch the Press Conference Video.

- Read more about the conference from UKNOW News.

- Read background information about the award from UK CAER.



UK CAER Students Take a "Green" Turn with Algae

clock August 20, 2014 11:01 by author Alice
Engineers normally get their hands dirty … but green? Ask any of the five UK students working with the Center for Applied Energy Research Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis group and you might get a surprising answer. They are all part of a student team from the University of Kentucky Engineering Department and the College of Design that have been working on design issues associated with the CAER algal-based carbon capture and utilization demonstration project based at Duke’s East Bend power plant located in Northern Kentucky.

In an effort to drive down capital and operating costs the CAER “outsourced” the design problems to this group of students to see what could be developed, with the end result to be working prototypes or models that could be incorporated into the Center’s day-to-day carbon utilization research.

The students were recently on-hand during a Channel 12 News interview of Michael H. Wilson, UK CAER Senior Research Engineer. Each created a poster focusing on their specific project highlighting what aspect of the process needed work and a solution of how to resolve that problem.

Katelyn Yohe, UK Electrical Engineering Senior - UK CAER Duke Algae Demo Katelyn Yohe, UK Electrical Engineering SeniorLow Cost Control System - (Poster) - A low cost control system was developed to control the input of carbon dioxide, as flue gas, and air in a photobioreactor in order to maintain healthy algae growth conditions. The system regulates pH and dissolved oxygen based on parameters set by the user. Live, weekly, stored data, and setting parameters can all be viewed and changed on a network computer through the web or through the on-board LCD. Based on the current system used, this new prototype is roughly an eighty-seven percent reduction of cost.

Landon Caudill, UK Mechanical Engineering Junior - UK CAER Duke Algae Demo Landon Caudill, UK Mechanical Engineering JuniorAlgae Harvest and Processing – (Poster) - I focused on how to improve the efficiency of our low-cost/low energy harvesting and dewatering process. In order to recover algal byproducts a low dosage (3-5 ppm) of chemical flocculent is added as the algae is pumped into a setting column. After 20 minutes the biomass has settled to the bottom of a small diameter and conical base to allow most (>95%) of the water to be decanted and recycled to the growth system. The thickened biomass is then transferred to a gravity dewatering belt and then to a solar drier to complete the low-cost/low-energy method of algae biomass recovery. These improvements have made the processing of harvested algae more efficient and consistent.

Chase M. Cecil, UK Chemical Engineering Senior - UK CAER Duke Algae Demo Chase M. Cecil, UK Chemical Engineering Senior - Optimizing Carbon Input to Maximize Efficiency – (Poster) - My work focused on modeling the CO2 utilization efficiency of the photobioreactor system. The model determined a CO2 input regimen that optimized the CO2 usage and maximized the efficiency of the reactor system. This method also highlighted the most important factors to improve the performance and efficiency of the system moving forward.

Thomas E. Grubbs, UK Architecture Senior - UK CAER Duke Algae Demo Thomas E. Grubbs, UK Architecture SeniorDesign, Development, and Documentation – (Poster) – My role at CAER has been primarily on the documentation side of the photobioreactor design process. I was brought aboard to lend a designer’s perspective to the work being carried at out at the Center, specifically the algae project. To that end, I have worked on the design and development of the PBR tube cleaning ‘pigs’, including the use of a CO2 laser cutting system in order to optimize pig construction, as well as the East Bend PBR.

Travis Jarrells, UK Chemical Engineering Junior - UK CAER Duke Algae Demo Travis Jarrells, UK Chemical Engineering JuniorCarbon Dioxide Compression Model – (Poster) – My work focused on the introduction of carbon dioxide, as flue gas, to the photobioreactor system. Different methods such as compression and bubbling and using eductors were compared based on an energy consumption basis. I also worked on improving smaller (8 liter) airlift reactors for use in the greenhouse. Improvements made include air introduction, as well as changes in geometry to improve longevity and maintenance.

The UK CAER has a long history of offering experiential learning opportunities to undergraduate engineering and science students in areas including: biofuels, carbon materials, carbon capture, industrial byproduct beneficiation, batteries, solar, and catalysis. The students get an opportunity to work on real world problems and apply the lessons they learn in their coursework to immediately reinforce their learning, often in a hands-on-manner. Michael Wilson sums it up by saying, “Working with these students has been a great experience. Although the experience they are getting is undoubtedly valuable, I’m not sure we can repay them for the amounts of enthusiasm and creativity they bring to the table. I am continually impressed with the level of talent present at the University of Kentucky”. With opportunities like these, the contributions that undergraduate researchers can make will only continue and ultimately contribute to the vitality of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

*Follow up questions can be directed to Michael.Wilson@uky.edu or alice.marksberry@uky.edu


UK CAER Algae "Put to Work" - Channel 12 Newscast

clock August 18, 2014 10:34 by author Alice


UK CAER's very own engineer, Mike Wilson, was recently interviewed by Josh Knight of Channel 12 News about how a CAER experimental algae demonstration unit at the Duke Energy East Bend power plant can reduce carbon emissions. The University of Kentucky CAER and Duke Energy have partnered on this project to capture flue gas, which is ten percent CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the plant in order to grow algae in a tube display.

At this time, the amount of gas being processed by the algae is a small amount that is sent out the stack but this pilot project proves that the system is functional and has definite possibilities. Per Mike Wilson, "They call it research for a reason, there's "re" in research, so you're going to do it over and over again until you find a way that works".

With continued research and efficiencies improvement, the project investigators and Duke would like to scale up the project to utilize all the flue gas which would result in tube arrays covering hundreds of acres. Potentially covering square miles with algae tubes is due to the growth factor of this Kentucky algae - microscopic organisms that grow and make food using carbon dioxide, sunlight and water through photosynthesis. Algae biomass can be used to make anything from biofuel to bio-plastics, foods and pharmaceuticals.

Watch the video and read more at Local 12 News site.


Ky NSF EPSCoR Program Receives Major Track 1 Funding from National Science Foundation

clock August 12, 2014 10:51 by author Alice

The Kentucky NSF EPSCoR received a Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 award from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The Kentucky track 1 award is generally an energy-related theme that will provide funding to various Kentucky universities and colleges to do research in the fields of electrochemical energy storage; study of membranes; and chemical inspired biology/lignin research. Rodney Andrews, UK CAER Director, is the Ky NSF EPSCoR Director.

From UKNOW News:

Kentucky faces significant challenges as the energy economy transitions from traditional coal mining to renewable resources. Kentucky's RII award, "Powering the Kentucky Bioeconomy for a Sustainable Future," will focus on bio-inspired nanocomposite membranes, biomass feedstocks and electrochemical energy storage. The project will drive and accelerate the growth of the emerging bioeconomy within Kentucky through statewide multi-institutional interdisciplinary collaborations that incorporate elements of chemistry, biology, physics and engineering. Strong ties between academic research and industry will confront the Green Grand Challenge, help train students and create jobs for an increasingly larger and diverse science, technology, engineering and mathematics educated workforce. The project provides a STEM-based educational framework that will encourage meaningful participation of under-represented and minority student populations in the emerging knowledge-based economy. Kentucky — University of Kentucky Research Foundation, PI: Rodney Andrews. More ...