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 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."


 

 



UKCAER Graduate Student Participates in East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Program

clock March 15, 2017 15:04 by author Thomas

Ryan Loe, a graduate student at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, recently visited Australia as part of the National Science Foundation's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Program.

This program, according to the NSF's website works like this: "NSF and selected foreign counterpart science and technology agencies sponsor international research institutes for U.S. graduate students in seven East Asia and Pacific locations."

"It allows you to partner with a research institute for about a three-month period to work... with a researcher of your choice," Ryan explained. "My project in Australia was working with converting plant oils and animal fats into diesel fuel. ... My main goal in Australia was to generate new supports [for catalysts] that are unique and have different morphologies that will hopefully have a positive effect [on that]."

The video below, posted on UK CAER's youtube channel, is Ryan explaining not only how useful the experience was professionally, but also how enriching and enjoyable it was from a cultural standpoint.

Ryan Loe is a native of Columbus, Ohio. He received his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Muskingum University in Ohio. He is currently a graduate student working in UK CAER’s Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group under his faculty mentor, Mark Crocker. Ryan’s research is focused on converting liquids to a renewable fuel.



Weisenberger Mill featured in Lexington Herald Leader

clock March 7, 2017 10:20 by author Thomas

The Department of Energy-funded partnership between the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research and Weisenberger Mill has been featured in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

 

The story can be found here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/tom-eblen/article136186728.html



Industry, Academic Leaders Appointed to UK CAER Advisory Board

clock March 7, 2017 09:50 by author Thomas

Industry, Academic Leaders Appointed to UK CAER Advisory Board

Twenty-four experts from industry, academia and government have accepted appointments to serve on the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research Advisory Board. The advisory board, which will meet in April 2017, provides counsel and guidance to the Center about emerging trends in energy research and development.

“I thank all of the advisory board members for their willingness to serve,” said Rodney Andrews, Director of the Center. “The depth and breadth of expertise will provide the Center and our research teams with valuable, strategic insight."

Since 1977, UK CAER has served as one of the nation’s premier energy research and development institutes, collaborating with companies and government agencies to help maximize Kentucky’s – and the nation’s – energy resources.

From discovering carbon capture technologies to developing new uses for coal combustion byproducts and working to expand energy and manufacturing options through the development of renewable biofuels, carbon fiber materials, novel energy storage, and solar technology, UK CAER’s scientists and investigators are focused on solving energy problems facing communities across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the nation and around the world.

  • Robert Addington, Retired, Energy Executive and Entrepreneur
  • Rocky Adkins, Kentucky State Representative
  • Jared Carpenter, Kentucky State Senator
  • Joe Craft, President & CEO, Alliance Resource Partners, L.P.
  • David Drake, UK CAER Advisory Board Chair; Retired, Energy Executive
  • Brian Goodall, Vice President, Valicor Renewables & Valicor Nutraceuticals
  • William Haneberg, Director, Kentucky Geological Survey
  • Greg Higdon, President & CEO, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers
  • Rick Honaker, Chair, UK Department of Mining Engineering
  • George Huber, Harvey D. Spangler Professor       , University of Wisconsin Madison
  • Mark Meier, Chair, UK Department of Chemistry
  • Kevin Mussler, Vice President, CMTA Inc.
  • Michael Portwood, President, Minova-Americas
  • Keith Roberts, Materials & Structures Technology Area Lead, AMRDEC
  • Warren Schimpf, Technical Advisory, Advanced Fiber Technologies, Inc.
  • Sara Smith, President, Smith Management Group
  • Charles G. Snavely, Secretary, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet
  • James J. (Jerry) Spivey, James M. Shivers Professor, Louisiana State University
  • Richard Sturgill, CEO, BPM Lumber, LLC
  • Paul Thompson, President and Chief Operating Officer, LG&E and KU Energy LLC
  • Brad Toon, Senior Management Consultant, Sargent & Lundy
  • Mitzi R. Vernon, Dean and Professor, UK College of Design
  • Robert H. Wombles, Vice President of Global Customer Technical Service, Koppers Inc.
  • John Wright, Executive Vice President, Owensboro Grain Co.

 



UK CAER and KY Energy Cabinet Host Workshop

clock March 3, 2017 16:56 by author Thomas

The Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER), in cooperation with the Kentucky Department for Local Government (DLG), are hosting a High Performance Public Facilities Workshop, March 22 in Hazard, Kentucky. The workshop's goal is to educate Kentucky’s city and county government officials save money through reducing energy consumption.

Local government officials and others responsible for managing public facilities are encouraged to attend the workshop to be held at the Hazard Community Technical College. Pre-registration cost is $75 and may be made online at http://www.kyhighperformance.org/. Public officials may earn 6.75 professional development units from DLG for attending. Continuing education credits are also available through the Kentucky League of Cities, UK CAER and the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Kentucky.

“The procurement and upgrade of energy saving technologies for public facilities are often necessary to reduce wasteful spending and budgetary inefficiencies,” said DLG Commissioner Sandra Dunahoo. “Local officials have numerous opportunities to utilize these cost saving advances in technology to not only enrich their communities but practice better fiscal stewardship.”

Experts from public and private sectors and officials from state and local governments will present energy saving strategies. Attendees will learn from their peers, with case studies offering personal accounts about overcoming obstacles and achieving savings through high-performance building strategies.

“The goal of the workshop is to help public officials understand how to save on their utility expenses and put those savings to more important things,” said Lee Colten, Assistant Director, Department for Energy Development and Independence.  “We like to say:  Save money.  Fix stuff.

“Whether it’s a municipal building, a water or waste-water treatment facility, there are a number of energy efficiency strategies that can offer significant savings.  Everyone attending the workshop will leave knowing how to translate energy efficiency strategies into action in the day-to-day operations of their public facilities.”



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