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.

WKYT covers UK CAER's Gobble Grease Toss

clock November 29, 2017 11:51 by author Thomas

Yesterday, WKYT, Lexington's CBS affiliate, covered UK CAER's efforts to recycle used Thanksgiving cooking oil. The full story can be found here.



UK CAER to Take Part in Gobble Grease Toss 2017

clock November 21, 2017 19:36 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) and other community partners will once again be taking a Thanksgiving leftover and giving it new life as a renewable fuel.

Fayette County’s annual Gobble Grease Toss will be held Friday, November 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Redwood Cooperative School, which is located at 166 Crestwood Drive, Lexington. Cooking oil will be used by UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), with additional cooking oil recycled by Kelley Green Biofuel.

UK CAER’s Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Research Group utilizes the grease to support its novel biofuel research program. Kelly Green Biofuel recycles some of the cooking oil to power vehicles here in Kentucky.

The Gobble Grease Toss is free for all Fayette County residents (no businesses, please). Residents should bring the oil in a disposable container with a lid.



UK CAER’s Biofuels Group Receives $2M to Support Novel Emissions Research

clock August 15, 2017 08:53 by author Thomas

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research’s (CAER) Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group has received a $2 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to develop new emissions technology for low-temperature gasoline.



The project is entitled “Research and Development of Novel Adsorber Technology to Address Hydrocarbon and Nitrogen Oxide Emissions for Low Temperature Gasoline Applications.” As part of the grant, UK CAER will be partnering with the University of California, Berkeley, Purdue University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Ford Motor Company.

This research project seeks to solve a problem with vehicle emissions. As internal combustion engines become more efficient, their exhaust gas becomes cooler. However, catalytic converters need to be warm to start efficiently removing pollutants (specifically nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons).

With national emission standards for vehicles becoming more stringent, it is increasingly important to remove these pollutants from exhaust gas when a vehicle is first started, in other words, when the exhaust gas is still cold.  

“To accomplish this goal, we are conducting research on a class of materials (zeolites) that can effectively trap pollutants until the vehicle’s catalytic converter is warm enough to convert them to harmless products,” said Mark Crocker, Associate Director of UK CAER’s Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group and Professor of Chemistry. “If successful, this technology will play a critical role in creating cleaner and more efficient vehicles.”

The grant was funded by DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office, and reasserts DOE’s commitment to advanced, energy efficient transportation technologies. Work of this type will improve our nation’s energy security, help consumers and businesses save money on transportation energy costs, and strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness. All told, DOE invested $19.4 million in 22 new cost-shared projects across the nation.



UK Undergraduate Research Program Opens Door to International Opportunity

clock July 12, 2017 08:15 by author Thomas

Sarah Hodges had never stepped foot into a research laboratory until she began her educational career at the University of Kentucky. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hodges enrolled at UK in the fall of 2015 to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.

 

Once at UK, Hodges took part in the Broadening Participation in Engineering (BPE) program, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded program led by Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez from the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER).

Hodges became interested in some of the research taking place in UK CAER's Materials Technologies Group and was paired with mentor Tristana Duvallet. She embarked on a research project with that group during the summer of 2016, and she received a competitive award for the project by UK's Office of Undergraduate Research.

That BPE program, Hodges said, changed her educational pathway, swinging open wide a world of opportunity that has led her to France this summer to pursue her burgeoning research career.

In 2016, Dr. Santillan-Jimenez encouraged Hodges to apply for the Kentucky-West Virginia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (KY-WV LSAMP) program. Participation in the KY-WV LSAMP program led her to being nominated for an international Research Experience for Undergraduates. This award will allow Hodges to study alongside Professors Gerard Mortha and Capucine Dupont at the University of Grenoble in France this summer to perform research on the thermal degradation of cellulose, which is of interest to applications related to the production of energy, fuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass.

 

As part of the program, Hodges will also attend ELITECAT 2017, a summer school of catalysis held in Lyon, France, which is home to one of the most prestigious centers for catalysis studies in Europe and the world.

"The opportunities that have been made available to me through undergraduate research here at UK CAER have been life-changing," said Hodges. "Traveling to France and learning the French culture through research is something I could never have dreamed of. I thank everyone at UK and CAER who have helped me along the way."



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.”

 

 



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.



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".



UKCAER Seminar - Recent Developments in Emission Control

clock August 4, 2016 09:21 by author Alice

DATE: Monday, August 8, 2016
TIME: 3:15 – 4:30 pm
WHERE: Ben Bandy Conference Room, Lab 1

TITLE: Recent Developments in Emission Control
SPEAKER: Dr. Christine Lambert, Ford Motor Co.

ABSTRACT: Modern emission control devices for gasoline and diesel powertrains evolved over decades of development to meet ever more stringent emission standards. For example, the U.S. standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) have decreased by 97% from 1974 to 2004. The most well-known device, the three-way catalyst, is used under stoichiometric conditions of spark-ignited engines and controls hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Newer devices include diesel oxidation catalysts, Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems for NOx, and diesel soot filters. The latest diesel emissions certifications in the U.S. include multifunctional devices like diesel soot filters with SCR catalytic coating. As emission standards continue to tighten in U.S., Europe, and China, research is focusing on HC traps, low temperature NOx adsorbers, N2O mitigation, and gasoline soot filters.



UKCAER Tours Students from the Chinese University of Mining and Technology

clock July 25, 2016 18:20 by author Alice


The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research hosted a tour of 60 students from the Chinese University of Mining and Technology. The group is part of a two week Study Abroad program for the undergraduates and six faculty from CUMT (Chinese University of Mining and Technology). The UK Mining Engineering Department is working with the UK College of Business to host the group.



Summer Partnership with Kentucky State University

clock July 21, 2016 09:49 by author Thomas


Kazi Javed, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Kentucky State University (KSU), has always been committed to bringing science to life for his students. This summer, he is doing just that thanks to a unique partnership with the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER).


Dr. Javed, who teaches an analytical instrumentation class at KSU, is volunteering in the Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group here at UK CAER this summer. With a focus in the classroom on instrument design and method development, Dr. Javed is bringing KSU students to UK CAER’s lab this summer to introduce them and train them on instrumentation not available at KSU.

 

Joining Dr. Javed from KSU are four students: Ma’Kaylah Garrett, a biology student from Indianapolis, Indiana; Steven Hall, a mechanical engineering student from Frankfort, Kentucky; Andrew Lentini, a mechanical engineering student from Shelbyville, Kentucky; and Siraj Ramsey, a mechanical engineering student from Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The mechanical engineering students are taking part in KSU and UK’s joint program, where the students attend KSU for three years and UK for two years. Participants receive a bachelor’s in mathematics from KSU and a UK engineering bachelor’s degree.

 

This collaborative work was made possible thanks to National Science Foundation grants entitled “MRI: Acquisition of a Gas Chromatograph with Dual Detection Capabilities to be Used in Sustainable Energy Research” (award number 1531637) and “SusChEM: Promotion of Nickel Catalysts for the Conversion of Biomass-derived Oils to Fuel-like Hydrocarbons” (award number 1437604). 



UKCAER Researchers Receive Swagelok Training

clock July 15, 2016 10:45 by author Alice
The Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis research group - at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research - hosted Mike Sallee from Swagelok for the 4th annual CAER Swagelok seminar. It focused on how to use tubing and tube fittings appropriately with an emphasis on safety. This seminar is very informational for staff and students alike. Many BEC staff go each time the class is offered because it is a good refresher and something new is learned. Thirteen people were in attendance this year (July 14).



Spring 2016 Tours at the UKCAER

clock May 24, 2016 14:06 by author Alice

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research has hosted two recent tours - a group from the Kentucky Geological Survey and a group from the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers organization. Both groups had to dodge a few raindrops but came away from the tour with more insight into the scientific energy research conducted at CAER.

Some of the stops included:

  • Algae Greenhouse (CO2 capture with algae) and Biofuels (fuels, chemicals and other products created from harvested algae)
  • Minerals Processing (utilization of coal ash by-products used to produce UKCAER/Minova's Tekecrete products, use in concrete and other building materials)
  • Carbon Materials processing (creation of carbon fibers used in the automotive and airline industries)
  • Electrochemical Power Sources (creation and/or testing of batteries used in autos, retail products, etc.)
  • Coal/Biomass-to-Liquids Pilot Facility (gasification of CBTL to synthetic fuels)
  • Solar/Organic Materials (creation of new, advanced thin-film technologies from organic compounds).


UK CAER Receives $2.4M Grant for US-China Clean Energy Research Center

clock May 5, 2016 09:39 by author Dave Melanson

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected UK's Center for Applied Energy Research for a five-year renewal of its United States-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) grant. CERC was created in 2009 by DOE, the China Ministry of Science and Technology and the China National Energy Administration to facilitate joint research and development on clean energy by teams of scientists and engineers from the US and China. Read more here.



Mark Crocker Quoted in ACS

clock April 27, 2016 14:13 by author Dave Melanson

UK CAER's Mark Crocker was quoted in a recent American Chemical Society (ACS) Central Science article entitled, "As the Volkswagen scandal showed, building fuel-efficient, low-emitting vehicles is no easy task." You can read the entire article here.



UK CAER Student Presents at NSBE Annual Convention

clock April 18, 2016 16:29 by author Alice
Courtney McKelphin, and undergraduate chemical engineering major at the University of Kentucky, working at the Center for Applied Energy Research in the Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis lab, presented her research at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Annual Convention in Boston, MA on March 25, 2016.

Courtney currently serves as UK's Chapter Vice President of NSBE and has been a member for two years. Her presentation focused on establishing key kinetic parameters of the catalytic decarboxylation/decarbonylation of triglycerides to fuels.



UK CAER, Sayre Co-Host Energy Fair

clock April 13, 2016 15:50 by author Alice
Exploding balloons. A solar car. A virtual reality sandbox. Sounds like a day at the museum, doesn’t it?

The reality: It was the annual University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) Energy Fair on Monday, April 11. Sayre School hosted the event at its C.V. Whitney Gymnasium, which featured more than 330 students from Cassidy, Russell Cave, Sayre and Yates Elementary Schools participating.

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.

In addition to CAER, presenters included the UK Chapter of the Society of Mining Engineers, Bluegrass GreenSource, UK’s Solar Decathlon team, Sayre Middle School Green Team, and the Kentucky Division of Air Quality, among others.



Environmental Class Tour of UK CAER

clock April 8, 2016 08:51 by author Alice

An environmental lab class under the direction of Dr. David Fraley of Georgetown College toured the University of Kentucky Lab 2, Carbon Spinline and Algae Greenhouse.



UK CAER Reaches Out to Math "Athletes"

clock April 1, 2016 10:52 by author Alice

 

Biofuels is the name of the game! Three University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research staffers - Scientist, Dr. Jack Groppo; Engineer, Ms. Shiela Medina; and Ms. Alice Marksberry - participated in the UK hosted 2016 MathCounts competition. On a Friday night in March, nearly 200 Mathcounts winners from middle schools in counties throughout the Commonwealth participated in fun science experiments with UK faculty, staff and students.

 

The UK CAER hosted an educational stop that featured the Biofuels Game - a board game created by CAER scientist Dr. Eduardo Santillian-Jimenez. The game reflects decisions made by the students that must compare and contrast the pathway of creating a gasoline/diesel product from either crude petroleum or biomass. Students must consider how to create the end product via economical and environmentally sound decision-making processes.

 

Mathcounts is a national enrichment, coaching and competition program that promotes middle school math achievement through grassroots involvement.


UK College of Design Students Tour CAER's Energy Efficient Lab Building

clock March 3, 2016 13:28 by author Alice
UK College of Design Students in the Interior Design area toured the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's laboratory 2 - Renewable Energy Lab on March 2, 2016. The students toured the solar and battery areas and heard details about the building's energy efficiency features from Courtney Fisk, UK CAER Assistant Director for Facilities and Operations. Courtney was the engineer that oversaw the construction of lab 2. Eduardo Santillan-Jimenz, UK CAER Biofuels Scientist, presented information/toured the Biofuels labs housed within the building. The CoD students are working on a Sustainability grant jointly received by UK CAER, Colleges of Design and Education to develop a biofuels video game from the board game version created by Dr. Santillian-Jimenz.