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.


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.

 



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. 



CAER 101 Project Brings Scientists into the Classroom

clock April 7, 2014 18:39 by author Alice

 

The CAER 101 project is bringing together scientists and children in a classroom setting. The scientists create lessons for 4th and 5th graders which allows the students have fun while learning sound energy science concepts in hands-on demos and lessons.

 

Tammy Lane, web editor from the Fayette County Public School System, does a great job of explaining the concept in an article posted today, April 7, 2014 on the FCPS web site:

 

- CAER 101 pairs scientists, fourth-graders in mutual exchange


Visiting Scientist from China to Spend Year at CAER

clock December 6, 2013 11:08 by author Marybeth McAlister

 Please welcome Shuli Bai to Mark Crocker’s group. He is a visiting scientist in environmental engineering from Taizhou College in China, who received his Ph.D. from the Chinese Academy of Science.



Congratulations to Liz Ware for Receiving Ph.D.

clock December 5, 2013 13:20 by author Marybeth McAlister

Liz Ware passed her doctoral defense on November 18th. Her dissertation is titled "Application of Pyrolysis-GC/MS to the Study of Biomass and Biomass Constituents." Her advisor is CAER Associate Director, Mark Crocker and co-advisor is Dr. John Selegue, UK Dept. of Chemistry. Liz began working at the CAER in Spring of 2009 and officially joined the Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis group as a graduate student in Jan. 2010. She has been offered a post-doctoral position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and will be moving to the Denver Area soon to start her new job, where she will be working on biomass cell wall analysis.



Algae for Carbon Dioxide Capture at Power Plants used by Duke Energy

clock November 19, 2013 11:09 by author Marybeth McAlister

Researchers from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) are demonstrating a system that uses algae to absorb carbon dioxide emissions at Duke Energy's East Bend power station in Northern Kentucky. Go to: http://uknow.uky.edu/content/caer-scientists-duke-energy-demonstrate-algae-based-carbon-capture-system

(from left) Mark Crocker, Stephanie Graham, Mike Wilson, and Jack Groppo



25 Elementary School Science Teachers Learn from CAER Science Lab Tour

clock November 17, 2013 20:16 by author Marybeth McAlister

For several years CAER havs been part of KYNEED's bigger area tour for science teachers. The two day travels include power plants, mines, Locust Trace Elementary, etc.  The group gets a close up view and explanation of carbon dioxide capture, biofuel energy, and how coal ash can be recycled into useable products instead of land filled at CAER. 



CAER Exhibits at Environmental Conferences

clock October 10, 2013 08:58 by author Marybeth McAlister

Showcasing our environmental and energy research, CAER participated in the recently held Governor's Conference on the Environment and the UK Big Blue Goes Green Event. At BBGG researcher Mike Wilson displayed a mini-photobioreactor demonstrating algae use in mitigating CO2 from power plants and using the alage afterwards.



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 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.  




Girls Learn from Female Mentors

clock June 12, 2013 11:06 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

CAER researchers Anne Oberlink and Liz Harman-Ware reached out to high school girls at the EKU Girls’ STEM Day recently. The scientists were accompanied by two high girls who recently toured CAER. STEM practitioners and educators led girls through activities that mirror real-world STEM tasks and highlight creative and innovative problem solving.  Anne and Liz exhibited and served as mentors.

Anne (left) and Liz



CAER Renewable Energy Building Contractor Receives Award

clock April 8, 2013 11:36 by author Marybeth McAlister

 Turner Construction Company, a general contractor firm based in Lexington, was recognized for its construction manager involvement with the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) Renwable Energy Research Lab. The construction of the new 43,000 square foot, high-performance laboratory will lower operation costs of CAER, while increasing education about the numerous energy technologies implemented in the building.



CAER Graduate Student Wins Best Student Poster Award at Renewable Energy Conference

clock March 28, 2013 14:00 by author Marybeth McAlister

 Congratulations to CAER graduate student Liz Ware-Harmon. She won first prize for a student poster at the 2013 Workshop on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Louisville at the KY International Convention Center. It was hosted by the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the University of Louisville. The paper was titled,"Pyrolysis-GC/MS Characterization of Bioenergy Crops," and was co-authored with Mark Crocker and Seth Debolt.

CAER researcher Robert Pace also presented a poster titled, "Qualitative Evaluation of Biomass Solubility Trends Among Dialkyl Imidazolium Chloride Ionic Liquids: A Microscopy Based Approach." It was co-authored by Mark Crocker, Samuel A. Morton III, Andrew J. Placido, Andrew R. Sharits (There were no awards given in the professional category.)

The University of Kentucky helped to support this meeting.

 



Daniel Grubb, Former UK CAER Student, in Alltech Program

clock March 10, 2013 19:09 by author Alice

UK NOW recent story indicates that twenty recent college graduates from across the globe currently are taking part in the inaugural Alltech Graduate Academy, and four of the participants are Kentuckians, including two who are alumni of the University of Kentucky.

One of the recent UK college graduates that was chosen as part of an elite class of emerging leaders in global agribusiness is Daniel Grubb. Daniel, a chemistry major and physics minor at Georgetown College, worked at UK's Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) for three years, helping to devise ways to convert algae into biodiesel using various metal-supported catalysts.

Grubb said, "I learned to manage multiple projects at the same time while at Georgetown, then the opportunity to work alongside people from all over the world at CAER was a tremendous experience."

Read the entire story at UK Now Site: UK, Kentucky Connections Abound in Alltech Program



BAE Mid-West Regional Rally Tours UK CAER

clock March 1, 2013 16:11 by author Alice

The 2013 BAE Mid-West Regional Rally - attended by various BAE student branches from such states as Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and others - toured the UK CAER facilities and met with research scientists on March 1, 2013.  They spoke with Rodney Andrews, UK CAER Director and then toured the new CAER Lab #2 Renewables Building.  They spoke with scientists from the Biofuels research area as well as a tour of the CAER Greenhouse.  They also toured the Minerals Processing and Carbon SpinLine Buildings and finished with a tour of the Power Generation lab.  

The Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Mid-West Rally is held each year in a different state to promote networking by holding meetings and tours to allow the students to learn about various engineering-related activities in the host state.  UK BAE Professor, Dr. Czarena Crofcheck, organized the tour.



Lindsey Wilson College Students Interested in Biofuels Research

clock February 19, 2013 13:56 by author Alice

A group of about dozen college students interested in algae and biofuels research toured the UK CAER Lab 2 Renewables Building and the CAER Greenhouse that houses the center's CO2 algae project.  The students, from Lindsy Wilson College, interacted with energy researchers as well as touring the University's newest renewables research laboratory that features state-of-the-art energy saving techniques and processes.

 



UK College of Design Studio Visit to Center for Applied Energy Research

clock February 7, 2013 17:37 by author Alice

Members from the University of Kentucky College of Design Studio toured the UK Center for Applied Energy Research facilities (February 2, 2013).  The group toured CAER Lab #2 Renewable Building as well as visiting the Algae Greenhouse and Minerals Processing Laboratory.  CAER researchers spoke to the group at each stop, giving them a brief overview and primer of the energy research that is currently being done in that specific location.