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 Scientists Collaborate with UK Engineering Capstone Senior Design Teams

clock July 11, 2014 15:00 by author Alice
The UK Center for Applied Energy Research, a non-degree granting UK energy research center, strives to provide and work with students via various experiential learning opportunities. For the past four years, the CAER's biofuels engineers have been working closely with the Mechanical Engineering's Capstone Senior Design project. The capstone project is a one-semester course within the UK College of Engineering college taken by students in their senior year. The students are divided into teams and the additional time allows for more comprehensive projects to be completed. This is where the CAER comes into the picture.

 

In an effort to drive down capital costs associated with algal-based carbon capture and utilization, the CAER "outsourced" design problems to the capstone student-based project teams so they could "dig a little deeper" to see what could be developed, with the end result to be working prototypes that could be incorporated into the Center's day-to-day biofuels research. In addition to campus work, the students worked about 10 hours per week at the Center to build their prototypes.

 

With input from the research staff at CAER, an electrical engineering (EE) team was tasked with developing a low cost control system while the mechanical design (ME) team was focused on reducing costs of the photobioreactor support frame.

 

Both student teams completed critical design reviews for their project, finalized their designs, and moved into the prototyping phase. The ME team met with a VERY aggressive cost reduction on the photobioreactor while the EE team was tasked with designing, building, and testing a control system capable of growing algae. "The end result is really cool", states Mike Wilson, CAER Biofuels Engineer, "because now the Center will be able to build and deliver a complete low-cost system to other research groups/companies".

 

Mike went on to say, "Put simply, we get professional engineering consulting for almost free, a working prototype of needed equipment, and the students get access to a modest budget (~$1000) for prototyping as well as a clearer picture of what goes on here at the Center. Getting to work with CAER researchers like Roger Perrone, Jack Groppo, Nick Rhea and myself gives them a unique experience that the other teams simply don’t get."

 

2014 EE team: George Villanueva, Cassie Cox, Chase Adams, Katelyn Yohe, Supreme Aryal

 

2014 ME team: Nathan Richardson, Tyler Craddock, Aaron Bottoms, David Trembula, Alison Dixon

 



STEM CAMP 2014 Rocks ... Bounces, Clanks, Gurgles ... at UK CAER

clock June 30, 2014 15:03 by author Alice
UK CAER hosted 144 eager, young, potential scientists - incoming 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders - at the Spindletop Energy campus on June 24 and 25, 2014. The students were participating in the See Blue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Camp being held at the University of Kentucky. The week-long day camp is designed to help students explore and integrate the STEM disciplines through authentic hands-on projects and real world applications.

These potentially future engineers, geologists and chemists spent the day at CAER involved in rotating between six hands-on experiments, demos and activities generally related to energy. The stops included (see below picture, left to right):

  • Jeanne Hartinger, CAER Staff: Students used engineering concepts to create balloons to compete for the highest bounce by using any of the various materials provided (rubber bands, tape, paper clips, washers) to make the balloon the correct shape, weight, diameter, or mass.
  • Jack Groppo, CAER Engineer: Students learned the basic concepts for water treatment (flocculation) by adding chemicals to suspensions of fine particles to cause rapid settling and produce clear water for recycling.
  • Mike Wilson, CAER Engineer: An outdoors "Energy Walk" combined physical activity with experiential learning by clarifying how much energy it takes to use various household electrical appliances in a typical home.
  • Robert Pace, CAER Scientist: A look at the energy dashboard of the CAER's renewable energy lab was part of the Newton's Cradle activity which utilizes a device that demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy via a series of swinging spheres.
  • Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, CAER Scientist: The fossil fuels and biofuels race taught kids about the conversion of different starting materials – such as biomass and petroleum – to fuel, while at the same time making them aware of the economic and environmental costs associated with these transformations.
  • Anne Oberlink, CAER Scientist: A visit to the CAER minerals laboratory provided children a hands-on experience utilizing cement, and learning about coal ash, an energy-related by-product, to create a personalized paving stone.


John Anthony's Organic Letters Paper is an ACS Editors' Choice Selection

clock June 30, 2014 14:18 by author Alice
UK Professor John Anthony, a longtime CAER collaborator whose labs are located at the Center, has been selected to be featured in ACS Editors' Choice, in addition to be published in Organic Letters journal. The American Chemical Society's ACS Editors' Choice is a new initiative wherein, based on recommendations from Editors, one article from across the portfolio is selected each day of the year and upon publication is made immediately available as open access sponsored by ACS Publications. ACS Editors' Choice articles aim to exemplify the Society's commitment to improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry.

Dr. Anthony's manuscript is titled, "Synthesis and Optical Properties of Dioxolane-Functionalized Hexacenes and Heptacenes". Less than 1% of articles published in an ACS journal are selected for the ACS Editor's Choice.


UK CAER's Fisk Attends Ky Green Building Summit

clock June 30, 2014 13:40 by author Alice
Courtney Fisk, Assistant Director for UK CAER's Facilities and Operations recently attended the first Kentucky Green Building Leadership Summit, Market Transformation for our Built Environment. Rick Fedriozzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the USGBC was the keynote speaker. The summit highlighted Kentucky businesses that are leaders in green building, and the important environmental, economic and social impact they have at a global, state and local level.

Courtney was the project engineer of the UK CAER's 43,000 square foot high-performance renewable energy laboratory that open in mid-2012. The laboratory building design target was a 50 percent reduction in energy usage compared to similar facilities. The final percentage is 54 percent. It is targeted to be LEED gold certified.


WUKY Radio Does Story about Coal Fires which includes UK CAER Jim Hower and Greg Copley

clock June 30, 2014 11:50 by author Alice
WUKY NPR @91.3 recently broadcasted a story about "WHAT LIES BENEATH: Researchers Turning Attention to Underground Coal Fires".

 

The story discusses how coal fires can start and how researchers at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research are gathering information on such fires in Kentucky. Some of the coal fires in the US have been burning for decades and they're tough to put out.

 

Jim Hower has been investigating these fires since 2007 and says that conditions like amount of smoke and ground temperatures change from one visit to the next. A number of things can start the fires, from forest and grassland fires igniting exposed coal beds, to arson, … even spontaneous ignition under some conditions. According to Hower, thousands of uncontrolled coal fires are burning beneath the surface around the world.

 

Go to the WUKY website to listen to this coal fires story.


Online Text book Written by CAER's Graham, Jacobs and Davis

clock June 30, 2014 11:10 by author Alice
The online book ‘Practical Electron Microscopy and Database,’ a reference for TEM and SEM operators, engineers, technicians, managers, researchers and students uses TEM/EELS data and figures generated and published by Graham, Jacobs and Davis. For more information, check out the online book page.



UKNOW's CAER 101 Article and UK REVEAL Video

clock June 4, 2014 15:18 by author Alice
UK Scientists Energize Lessons for Local Fourth Graders - UKNow Campus Article - The "CAER 101" education program, which UK's Center for Applied Energy Research started 12 years ago in partnership with Russell Cave Elementary School, was expanded this year to include Liberty and Yates elementary schools as well. More ...

 

UK CAER Scientists making their contribution to the education mission of the University of Kentucky includes Jack Groppo, Ashley Morris, Mike Wilson, Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, Robby Pace, Anne Oberlink, Bob Jewell, Lisa Richburg, and Andy Placido. They developed a dynamic education program for the 4th graders at three Lexington local elementary schools. The scientists along with Marybeth McAlister (and later Alice Marksberry) worked with the scientists and teachers in developing the education modules and spending time with those inquiring young minds.

 

Marybeth, the CAER communications manager, developed the initial educational outreach program efforts over 10 years ago at the Russell Cave School. In January 2014, she died unexpectedly and the CAER and FCPS teachers have continued with the project in part as a tribute to her.

 



Research by Fulbright Scholar Completed while at UK CAER Wins Major Award

clock June 4, 2014 13:46 by author Alice
Thani Jermwongratanachai, previously a graduate student at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, has won the best oral presentation award at the RGJ - Ph.D. Congress XIV held at the Jomtien Palm Beach Hotel and Resort in Pattaya, Thailand. Ph.D students present at the RGJ conference at the end of their educational program. The title of Thani's talk was “A Comparison between Pt and Ag as Metal Promoters for Co/Al2O3 Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis Catalyst”.

 

Thani Jermwongratanachai, previously a graduate student at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, has won the best oral presentation award at the RGJ - Ph.D. Congress XIV held at the Jomtien Palm Beach Hotel and Resort in Pattaya, Thailand. Ph.D students present at the RGJ conference at the end of their educational program. The title of Thani's talk was “A Comparison between Pt and Ag as Metal Promoters for Co/Al2O3 Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis Catalyst”.

 

 

Thani was part of the Royal Golden Jubilee (RGJ) program of Thailand project which aims to produce 5,000 Ph.D. graduates in as few as 15 years when it was realized in the last two decades that one of the serious causes for the social and economic weakness of Thailand was the severe shortage of highly qualified human resources especially in the field of science and technology. Because of its merit, the project was also proclaimed one of the programs to commemorate H.M. the King's Golden Jubilee year of reign.

 

The work that was presented was completed at CAER during the summer of 2013. His advisers were Boonyarach Kitiyanan (Chulalongkorn University), Gary Jacobs (UK-CAER), and Burtron H. Davis (UK-CAER). Top, as he was affectionately known at CAER, came to the Center as a Fulbright Scholar after receiving a grant in 2012. The grant application was written by his three advisors, with Dr. Jacobs and Prof. Davis serving as his hosts in the USA. During his stay, he made presentations at national and international meetings and was a co-author on 6 refereed publications.

 

His primary research explored the use of silver as a promoter in cobalt Fischer-Tropsch synthesis catalysts to not only possibly replace expensive precious metal promoters (e.g., platinum), but to also improve the product selectivity away from undesirable light gas products. Much of his work involved the use of synchrotron radiation, and Top had the opportunity to accompany Dr. Jacobs on visits to the synchrotron at Brookhaven National Laboratory, as well as to collaborate with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory.

 

In May of 2014, Dr. Jacobs received funding from the Royal Golden Jubilee program to visit Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and serve on Top’s graduate committee. On May 16th, Top successfully defended his thesis, entitled “Utilization of methane: methylation of benzene with methane, and gas-to-liquids (GTL) via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.” The same day, Dr. Jacobs gave a one hour seminar entitled “Applications of synchrotron methods in the characterization of catalysts for the production of alternative fuels.”

 



DEDI New Personnel Visit UK CAER

clock June 4, 2014 13:37 by author Alice
New staffers at DEDI (Department for Energy Development and Independence, part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky's Energy and Environment Cabinet) toured various UK CAER science areas to better understand the various types of research activities that occur at the energy center. In addition to an introduction by Dr. Rodney Andrews, CAER Director, the renewables lab included the building's green characteristics as well as solar, elecrochemical power sources and biofuels research areas. Also included on the tour was the petrology lab, clean fuels and chemicals lab, power generation lab demo, briquetting, algae greenhouse, carbon materials and minerals research labs.


KAM Tours UK CAER Labs

clock June 4, 2014 13:32 by author Alice

 

Individuals from the Kentucky Manufacturing Association toured CAER labs recently to help develop potential partnerships between Kentucky's manufacturing industry and UK CAER.


UK Alum Tours UK CAER

clock June 4, 2014 13:25 by author Alice
Milton Huffaker, a 1957 UK Physics alumni toured UK CAER during a visit to the University of Kentucky campus to view and discuss various entrepreneur projects, which is the focus of his company, Coherent Investments. Mr. Huffaker toured various research areas at CAER including carbon materials, F-T, minerals, biofuels, batteries and algae.


UK CAER's Uschi Graham Joins NAM Organizing Committee

clock June 4, 2014 11:32 by author Alice

Dr. Uschi Graham, UK CAER Research Scientist, has been asked to join the organizing committee of the 24th North American Catalysis Society.  The 24th NAM conference will be held in Pittsburg, PA from June 14-19, 2015 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. 



Burt Davis Receives 2014 NACS Award for Distinguished Work

clock June 4, 2014 11:01 by author Alice

Dr. Burtron Davis, UK CAER Clean Fuels and Chemicals Associate Director, is the has received the 2014 NACS Award for Distinguished Service in Advancement of Catalysis.

The following is taken from the NACS Press Release (nacatsoc.org/category/news/):  The Award is pre­sented every two years to rec­og­nize an indi­vid­ual who has advanced cat­alytic chem­istry or engi­neer­ing through both sig­nif­i­cant ser­vice to the catal­y­sis com­mu­nity and out­stand­ing tech­ni­cal accom­plish­ments. This award includes an hon­o­rar­ium ($5,000) and a plaque. It is awarded by the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety and spon­sored by Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing and Clari­ant and will be pre­sented dur­ing the 2015 NAM in Pittsburgh 

Dr. Davis is being rec­og­nized in par­tic­u­lar for his con­tri­bu­tion to indus­trial research prob­lems with a detailed under­stand­ing of cat­alytic trans­for­ma­tions. His work in iso­topic label­ing stud­ies has helped obtain in depth knowl­edge of reac­tion path­ways of indus­tri­ally rel­e­vant processes and prob­ing cat­alytic mech­a­nisms. Specif­i­cally, Dr. Davis has focused on Fischer-Tropsch reac­tion mech­a­nisms and cat­alytic trans­for­ma­tions using cobalt, iron and ruthenium-based cat­a­lysts research­ing fun­da­men­tal ques­tions with indus­try rel­e­vance. Dur­ing his five decade career, Dr. Davis has co-authored more than 500 peer reviewed pub­li­ca­tions and orga­nized numer­ous sym­posia in var­i­ous areas of catalysis that honored renowned petroleum chemists including Paul H. Emmett, W. Keith Hall, Robert Eischens and John Sinfelt among many others. 

In ser­vice to the catal­y­sis com­mu­nity, Dr. Davis has served the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety in var­i­ous capac­i­ties includ­ing orga­niz­ing the 12th NAM in Lex­ing­ton and serv­ing as the Hon­orary Chair of the 23rd NAM in Louisville. For the past three decades Dr. Davis has func­tioned as a his­to­rian of the NACS and the catal­y­sis com­mu­nity. His fore­sight, ded­i­ca­tion and efforts to archive and record the his­tory of the soci­ety and cat­alytic sci­ence has led to an unprece­dented NACS hosted col­lec­tion of more than 1300 videos of con­fer­ence pre­sen­ta­tions and one on one inter­views.  He has captured the voices, images and messages of many of the greats in catalysis including Professors Paul Emmett, Ed Teller, Geoff Wilkinson, Robert Burwell, Daniel Eley, Michel Boudart, Mark Dry, and Hermann Pines just to name but a few.  This col­lec­tion stands as a tes­ta­ment to the ded­i­ca­tion of Burt Davis to the preser­va­tion of the his­tory of catal­y­sis for gen­er­a­tions to come.



UK CAER Works with Deep Springs Elementary

clock June 4, 2014 10:35 by author Alice

CAER reseachers Andy Placido and Stephaine Kesner recently spent time at the Deep Springs Elementary school to bring one of the CAER 101 modules - Using Motors to Make Electricity -  to the students during their review day prior to testing.  Demonstration of mini-wind turbine was used to show when blades spin, an LED bulb is lit.  Changing speeds of the fan at a set distance shows how this can change energy production. 



New Ph.D "In the House" at UK CAER!

clock May 12, 2014 16:06 by author Alice
Ms. Tristana Duvallet, a recent UK CAER graduate student, earned her Ph.D in Materials Science and Engineering from the UK Engineering College. Her dissertation was "Influence of Ferrite Phase in Alite-Calcium Sulfoaluminate Cements".

 

Tristana is now a Post Doctoral Scholar at CAER and is continuing her work in sulfoaluminate cements in the Environmental and Coal Technologies research group.

 

Tristana is one of the CAER's former ESIREM Exchange Program students. In 2008, she finished her materials engineering degree by doing senior experimental work at UK CAER and then returned to France to present her work before faculty members.

 

The Center has hosted materials engineering students from the University of Burgundy's ESIREM program in Dijon, France since 1999. This is part of a larger university-wide partnering program with the French school that includes UK's Colleges of Agriculture and Business.

 



UK CAER Scientist Gives Plenary Lecture at International Nanotechnology Congress

clock May 12, 2014 15:53 by author Alice
Dr. Uschi Graham, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, recently attended the International Nanotechnology Congress, held April 23-36, 2014 in Antalya, Turkey. She presented one of the plenary lectures at the Congress that was entitled “In vivo processing of ceria nanoparticles: Impact on free radical scavenging activity and oxidative stress.” Ceria is an important industrial catalyst material used in fuel synthesis applications and is extensively studied in the Clean Fuels and Chemicals Group at the CAER.

 

The Nanotox2014 Congress continues the series of international conventions on nanotoxicology that so far has included meetings in Miami (2006), Zurich (2008), Edinburgh (2010) and Beijing (2012). The focus of these meetings is on outcomes of interactions between engineered nanomaterials and biological systems. The Congress in Antalya had participants from 42 countries representing Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and Africa.

 



UK CAER and KGS Organize New Unconventional Oil and Gas Symposium

clock May 6, 2014 15:32 by author Alice


EUOGS will address a broad range of upstream and downstream issues related to energy production from emerging resources. The Kentucky Geological Survey and Center for Applied Energy Research at the University of Kentucky are joining together to initiate an annual Eastern Unconventional Oil & Gas Symposium to be held November 5-7, 2014 at the Hilton Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky. It will rely on expertise from a number of disciplines including horizontal drilling, fracture stimulation, regulations, water issues, pipelines, induced seismicity, geology, regulated utilities, natural gas vehicles, sustainability, environmental impacts, and other focus areas. Target audience includes the oil and gas producing areas of the states in the northeast comprising the Appalachian, Illinois, and Michigan Basins.

 

More information can be found on the EUOGS Website - www.euogs.org


UK CAER Hosts another Successful Ash Workshop

clock May 6, 2014 15:11 by author Alice
CAER in conjunction with the American Coal Ash Association, co-hosted and CAER organized the 2014 Coal Combustion Products Utilization and Management workshop held in Lexington, Kentucky on April 29-30, 2014. The workshop offered a comprehensive overview of the CCP industry from the point of generation to inclusion in buildings, agriculture, infrastructure, and environmental remediation projects. The workshop was attended by 60 individuals from across the US and the instructors hailed from both industry and academia.



Patrick Mansfield, UK CAER Student, Presents Poster at NCUR

clock May 6, 2014 15:05 by author Alice
A student with the CAER Power Generation research group recently participated in the 2014 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) that took place on the UK campus during April 2014. Patrick Mansfield, UK Chemical Engineering undergraduate, presented a poster dealing with carbon fibers reinforced polymer composite multiwall carbon nanotubes studded carbon fibers. Nearly 4,000 students and mentors across the US presented their research and creative endeavors.



UK CAER Shiela Medina Collaborates on the Kentucky Electricity Portfolio Model Report - UKNOW Story

clock April 15, 2014 10:42 by author Alice
Today's UKNOW reports on "UK, Energy Cabinet Forecast Kentucky's Energy Future" - A team of students and researchers from the University of Kentucky Department of Statistics and the UK Center for Applied Energy Research worked last summer with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to evaluate energy and environmental policy under a range of potential carbon dioxide regulatory scenarios. More...

 

The UK team included several students,Department of Statistics Professor Arne Bathke, and department Chair Arnold Stromberg. From CAER, Shiela Medina served in leadership role for the project team.