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.

Great Video on #CAER's Algae Research

clock October 3, 2013 09:57 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

http://uknow.uky.edu/content/using-algae-lock-away-greenhouse-gas



CAER Receives $3 million for Carbon Capture Research

clock October 1, 2013 10:31 by author Marybeth McAlister

CAER is working to advance technology to capture carbon dioxide from new and existing coal-burning power plants, funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory, part of the DOE Office of Fossil Energy, has selected the UK Center for Applied Energy Research for the three-year, $3 million project.

The announcement comes on the heels of regulations proposed Sept. 20 by the Environmental Protection Agency to sharply reduce carbon emissions from new power plants. This development presents serious challenges to the coal industry, which currently lacks cost-effective technology that would enable it to comply with the proposed lower limits.

"Technologies for carbon capture, utilization and storage will be crucial in sustaining coal as a viable fuel under increasing carbon constraints," said CAER Director Rodney Andrews. "The technology is feasible, but it is not yet ready for full-scale implementation. That's why this project is so important." 

The CAER project will advance the DOE's goal of having technology available by 2020 that can achieve a 90-percent carbon dioxide capture rate, at a cost of $40 per metric ton of carbon dioxide captured.

A major cost associated with commercial carbon dioxide capture is the size of the "scrubber" needed to handle the volume of flue gas produced by a power plant. CAER has developed a catalyst to speed up the absorption rate of the solvent used, so the scrubber can be much smaller. Overall, the CAER technology could reduce the cost of carbon dioxide capture by 56 percent, compared to the current DOE reference case.

Research and development by CAER will enable efficient, cost-effective implementation of carbon capture throughout the power generation sector and ensure that the United States and other nations will continue to have access to safe, reliable, and affordable energy from fossil fuels, Andrews said.

"These essential factors of production, in turn, have and will continue to drive industrial growth, raising personal incomes, higher standards of living, and an improved quality of life," he said.

DOE's investment is $2,966,957, in addition to cost share of $242,615 from UK and $499,675 from the Carbon Management Research Group, an industry-based research consortium with membership consisting of AEP, Duke, EPRI, LGE-KU and the state’s Department of Energy Development and Independence. Kunlei Liu, CAER associate director for research, will serve as the university’s principal investigator.

UK President Eli Capilouto commended researchers at CAER for tackling head-on the "questions of efficiency, sustainability and utilization," raised by the global energy debate.

“Our researchers, in partnership with the Department of Energy and the Carbon Management Research Group, are reaching new discoveries that can transform the Kentucky and national energy economy,” he said.



Several Job Positions Available at UK CAER

clock September 23, 2013 11:53 by author Alice

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research has posted 8 job descriptions that are now available.  Please review the Power Generation page for details.

  • CO2 Capture Process Modeling Post Doctoral Researcher
  • CO2 Capture Process Data Analysis Post Doctoral Researcher
  • Environmental Gas Sample Collection Technologist
  • Amine Aerosol Emissions from CO2 Post Doctoral Researcher
  • Solvent Degradation and Emissions Post Doctoral Researcher
  • Zeolite / Zeolite Membrane Development / Liquid Separation Post Doctoral Researcher
  • Electrochemical Development for Thermal Energy Generation Post Doctoral Researcher
  • Catalysis / Develop Catalysts to Enhance CO2 Capture Processes Post Doctoral Researcher


CAER Researcher Seeks Safer Batteries for Underground Mine Use

clock September 9, 2013 11:30 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

Dr. Steve Lipka, CAER Associate Director for Electrochemical Power Sources, has been awarded a 2 year, $389,000 grant from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  The title of the project is “Evaluating the Inherent Safety of Lithium-ion Batteries in Portable Electronics Used in Underground Mine Environments.”

 This project will help to understand the safety of Li-ion battery chemistries used in portable electronic devices such as hand-held gas detectors, cap lamps, hand tools, communications devices, and tracking devices and their potential risk as an ignition source in an underground mine where there is a mixture of methane and air.  In a catastrophic event, the battery can sustain mechanical damage, resulting in reactions between active battery materials and the highly volatile and flammable organic electrolyte.  These reactions can result in rising cell temperatures which accelerate further chemical reactions in the battery causing heat and gas generation. The project will evaluate the ignition potential of various Li-ion battery chemistries in both cylindrical and prismatic cell formats in a simulated underground mine environment under mechanical damage. 

Lipka’s group will recommend safer lithium-ion battery chemistries and use in portable devices. The researchers will also develop strategies to stop or reduce potential ignition for lithium-ion batteries used in underground mines.

Professor Thomas Novak of UK’s Department of Mining Engineering will serve as a project consultant.



Video on Kentucky EPSCoR Series Features VOEIS Project

clock August 13, 2013 12:40 by author Marybeth McAlister

The CAER administered Ky NSF EPSCoR program is featured in this video about a cyberinfrastructure system to monitor, analyze, model, and forecast the consequences of environmental changes in freshwater ecosystems. http://uknow.uky.edu/content/second-video-kentucky-epscor-series-features-voeis-project.



CAER's Steve Hampson Discusses Paducah Site Groundwater Model

clock August 5, 2013 14:31 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

Steve Hampson of the University of Kentucky, West Kentucky Community & Technical College President Dr. Barbara Veazey, Paducah Junior College Board of Trustees member Ken Wheeler, and Buz Smith of the Department of Energy examine a DOE Paducah Site groundwater model exhibit created by the UK College of Design at the WKCTC Emerging Technology Center.



CAER Algae Project in Algae-Biomass Industry Project Book

clock August 5, 2013 12:57 by author Marybeth McAlister

A demonstration scale photobioreactor (PBR) is being operated and expanded at Duke Energy’s East Bend Station located in Union, KY. The PBR converts the CO2 in flue gas to algal biomass, via photosynthesis.


The biomass is then periodically harvested to supply feedstock for upgrading into value added products. The low energy harvesting system recycles water and unused nutrients. Partners include: KY Department of Energy Development and Independence; US-China Clean Energy Research Center-Advanced Coal Technology Consortia; ENN Group; and Pittsburgh State University.



Swagelok Training Takes Place at UK CAER

clock August 1, 2013 15:11 by author Alice

 

Swagelok Indiana representatives Mike Sallee and Tim Shine gave a hands-on seminar for the UK Center for Applied Energy Research's Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis research group.  The presentation was very informative and discussed proper usage, specifications, economical techniques and most importantly safety practices when using their products.  The talk also highlighted common misuses and the information was well received.  




CAER Student doing Research at University of Witsatersrand, South Africa

clock July 29, 2013 09:04 by author Alice

 

Michelle Johnston, an MS student in the University of Kentucky's Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences and a part-time employee of the CAER's Applied Petrology Laboratory working under the direction of Jim Hower, recently completed several weeks of study under the direction of Nikki Wagner at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.  Michelle studied the petrology of a suite of coals from  Botswana.  Nikki Wagner was on sabbatical leave at the CAER in the second half of 2011.




CAER Student Recipient of Spackman Research Grant

clock July 29, 2013 09:01 by author Alice

 

Trent Garrison has been busy this summer!

He was recently named the 2013 recipient of The Society for Organic Petrology's Spackman Research Grant.  Trent will officially receive the $1000 award at the time of TSOP's annual meeting in Sosnowiec, Poland.  This award will be used for his field expenses while doing his research on coal mine fires in eastern Kentucky.  Trent is a PhD student in the University of Kentucky's Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, working under the direction of Jim Hower of the CAER.



CAER Student Receives Bernadine Meyer Memorial Scholarship

clock July 25, 2013 14:58 by author Alice

 

Trent Garrison, a PhD student in the University of Kentucky Earth & Environmental Sciences (EES) under the direction of Jim Hower, has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 Bernadine Meyer Memorial Scholarship from the Kentucky Society of Natural History.  This will help to support his research on emissions from coal fires. 

As a requirement of the scholarship, Trent will make a presentation at a meeting of the society.  Trent has been a part-time employee in the Applied Petrology Laboratory since January 2012 and also has been teaching introductory geology classes at Bluegrass Community and Technical College and at Eastern Kentucky University.  In the 2013-2014 academic year, he will be a teaching assistant in EES.



Real Time May-June 2013 Newsletter

clock July 25, 2013 11:18 by author Alice

Real Time is now available!

May-June 2013 Newsletter from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research

Feature: Record Breaking North American Catalysis Society Conference co-organized by UK CAER Researchers. Burt Davis receives a NACS award.

Highlights: CAER's renewable energy laboratory building has saved approximately $147,000 per year in utility savings; CRN and CEATI have annual meeting at UK CAER; Russell Cave students enjoy tour at UK CAER; Researches reach out during recent STEM Girl's day at EKU; Steven Lipka is early grantee of announced UK-GE master agreement; UK CAER presents award to John Moffett for CAER Distinguished Service Award; and much more!



Energeia 2013 Issue 24-2 now Published

clock July 17, 2013 16:12 by author Alice

Energeia 2013 Issue 24-2 includes:

  • The Founders and Innovators of Catalysis Science - Paul Emmett, Edward Teller, Geoffrey Wilkinson, Edith Marie Flanigen, Gabor Somorjai, Gehard Ertl, Keith Hall, Robert Grubbs by Burt Davis
  • WOCA 2013
  • CAER Expands Briquetting and Binder Development
  • Commentary - Economic Development in Eastern Kentucky Requires Integration of Energy Resources by Roger Ford
  • CAER Spring Filled with Student Tours


STEM Mentoring for High School Girls

clock July 17, 2013 15:12 by author Marybeth McAlister

To promote young women in science, CAER staff spent a day mentoring two female high school students. Simone Stigall (front left) and Alex Raines (front right) job shadowed Liz Ware (back left) and Anne Oberlink recently. They learned about biofuels and low energy cement. Several of the lab's female researchers and college students joined them for lunch and discussions regarding careers in science.



Long Time Coming

clock July 12, 2013 11:30 by author Marybeth McAlister

Congratulations to Teresa Epperson (left front), Theresa Wiley (right front), Jim Hower (left second row), and Wayne Pettit for receiving 30 and 35 year service awards from UK. 



Renewable Energy Building Provides Major Savings to UK

clock July 1, 2013 13:06 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

When the UK Center for Applied Energy Research’s renewable energy laboratory building opened a year ago, it was with energy conservation in mind. A year’s worth of data shows a total energy reduction of 55% compared to a typical laboratory building its size.  This is not estimated, but an actual savings based on the utility bills.  This took a team commitment from design to operations.  Much of the conservation took place after the completion of the building by operating and maintaining the building to achieve these savings.

To illustrate this cost savings magnitude, last year the utility costs of the original CAER building (erected in 1977) was $258,694 ($4.88 per square foot). The new building’s utility cost was $111,181 ($2.58 per square foot). This is a difference of $147,000 per year in utility savings that can be directed towards research rather than building consumption.

Part of the energy reduction is accomplished by energy-saving features throughout the building, including an exterior and roof with twice the amount of insulation normally used. Office windows receive southern-directional light and contain a nanogel material that diffuses sunlight and provides the same insulation as brick walls. Among other features are geothermal heating and cooling, occupancy sensors that turn off lights automatically when no one is there, and a ventilation system that recaptures energy.

The original engineers (CMTA Engineering Consultants) are now studying trends in the building and believe that there are opportunities to reduce energy consumption even further.



Burt Davis Recognized for 50 years of Contributions to North American Catalysis Society

clock June 26, 2013 12:46 by author Marybeth McAlister

At the recent 23rd North American Catalysis Society conference, Burt Davis received a joint award from the group and the Tri-State Catalysis Society (TSCS) for his Fifty Years of Dedicated Service to the Catalysis Society and his Documenting and Archiving the History of Catalysis. As the current president of TSCS, CAER's Uschi Graham  had the pleasure of presenting the award.



A Send off for John Moffett

clock June 26, 2013 12:04 by author Marybeth McAlister

 Kunlei Liu (CAER Associate Director) presented John Moffett (LG&E Manager Research & Development) a CAER Distinguished Service Award upon his upcoming retirement from LG&E. John was instrumental in the formation of the CMRG (Carbon Management Research Group), a consortium of Kentucky's major power companies and CAER. The group is carrying out a $24M ten-year program of research to development and is demonstrating cost-effective and practical technologies for reducing and managing CO2 in existing coal-fired electric power plants.



CAER Researcher Part of UK-GE Agreement

clock June 14, 2013 11:18 by author Marybeth McAlister

Electrochemistry expert Steve Lipka is one of the early grantees in the recently announced UK-GE master agreement to collaborate on research projects. This  partnership could yield research towards inventing future appliances.

http://uknow.uky.edu/content/university-kentucky-ge-appliances-enter-master-agreement-research



Record Breaking Catalysis Conference Organized by CAER Researchers

clock June 13, 2013 11:00 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

The record-breaking 23rd Meeting of the North American Catalysis Society got off on a fast track at an opening reception at Churchill Downs this month.  A large portion of the successful conference was organized by University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy catalysis scientists.

This biennial meeting, with its large international participation, is the premier scientific event in the field of catalysis.  The Tri-State Catalysis Society hosted the 23rd North American Meeting (NAM) in Louisville and this event surpassed all previous NAMs with 1,300 attendees, 54 exhibitors, 400 oral presentations, 600 posters, $278K in general sponsorship from 38 sponsors, and $75K in Kokes awards to enable students to participate in the meeting.

CAER researcher Uschi Graham was the co-meeting chair, along with Umit Ozkan (The Ohio State) and Madan Bhasin (MATRIC). CAER Associate Director Burt Davis was the honorary chair; and CAER researcher Gary Jacobs chaired the Kokes Student Award Committee.