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.

Acclaimed Energy Documentary to be Shown at Student Center

clock November 17, 2013 20:04 by author Marybeth McAlister

Every energy resource — fossil, nuclear and renewable — is undergoing profound changes. This sweeping transition is the subject of Switch, an acclaimed new documentary where Dr. Scott Tinker travels the world, exploring leading energy sites from coal to solar, oil to biofuels, most of them highly restricted and never before seen on film. But rather than advocate for how it should happen,Switch travels the world to discover how it most likely will happen.

It will be shown at the UK student center’s Worsham Theatre on November 20th at 5:00 pm. Tickets are free. For more on the documentary, go to: http://www.switchenergyproject.com/about/the-film orhttp://uknow.uky.edu/content/switch-documentary-exploring-our-energy-future



CAER Shows its Stuff at KY EPSCoR Conference

clock October 18, 2013 10:08 by author Marybeth McAlister

Alice Marksberry and Jeanne Hartinger represented the CAER at the 2013 Annual statewide EPSCOR Research Innovation Education conference, October 17th.  It was hosted by the University of Louisville, Shelby Campus. Some of the more interesting general talks included "A cinematic arts approach to communicating research - Developing alternate ways of telling the story of science."

CAER administers the KY NSF Program. http://www.kynsfepscor.org/



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.



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



UNNOW Reports on CAER and Russell Cave Science Lessons

clock May 21, 2013 13:33 by author Alice

UKNOW Story on Fourth-Graders Get hands-on Science at CAER.

This is the 10th year of the partnership between Russell Cave Elementary School and the UK CAER.  



CAER Celebrates Earth Day at Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council Event

clock May 1, 2013 14:20 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

 This year's Sustainability Expo took place at Locust Trace Agriscience Farm, a local Fayette County public school that focuses on agricultural resources and the environment. CAER participated with staff explaining energy sustainability to children from the school.




Grimminger Supervises BCTC Regional Science Olympiad

clock April 19, 2013 14:14 by author Marybeth McAlister

On March second Marsha Grimminger, of the Electrochemistry Group, designed questions related to a science challenge geared toward high school chemistry students for Bluegrass Community and Technical College's Regional Science Olympiad. They were not told of the specific topic before the event. The 18 students collected data through experimentation and compared results.



CAER and UK Pharmacy Join in Medicine Development Efforts

clock April 18, 2013 12:11 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

 Petrologist Jim Hower and Eastern Kentucky Regional Coordinator Greg Copley are assisting Jon Thorson, UK Pharmacy, in locating and sampling extreme environments in Kentucky.  Such sites include soils associated with coal mine fires; waters associated with swamps, sulfur springs, acid mine drainage; and the spoils from lead and zinc mining.  Thorson’s research group is hoping to isolate previously unknown antibiotics and other drugs from microorganisms in the environment. Recent sampling took place in Owen and Henry Counties.

Here Madan Kharel (Pharmacy) is obtaining a sample while CAER's  John Hiett stands ready to assist.



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.



High School Students' CAER-mentored Projects Win at Recent Science Fairs

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

 

Four local high school students who were mentored by University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research scientists have proved experience gain by working in laboratories with mentors is invaluable.

Valerie Sarge, a junior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, placed first in the Energy and Transportation category at the Central Kentucky Regional Science and Engineering Fair, going on to win first place in the same category at the state competition. This qualifies her to go on to Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) to be held in Phoenix. Valerie was mentored by Chemistry Professor/CAER Faculty Associate, John Anthony. In her work with the solar energy group she is using organic compounds called furan-based materials. These can be derived from agricultural waste products to create new semiconductors for use in low-cost solar cells. She is has been working on synthesis, but may soon move toward creating solar cells.

Will Kimmerer, a ninth grader at Sayre School, won top awards at the regional and state fairs in the Environmental Science category, including second in the Physical Sciences category. Kimmerer is interested in water purification and obtained carbon material samples for use in his project from CAER working closely with Director Rodney Andrews during the project. He was selected for the I-SWEEP 2013 conference (International Sustainable World Energy Engineering Environment Project) in Houston, where he will present his work. Additionally, he was selected for the Stockholm Junior Water Award.

Additionally, two Dunbar CAER interns placed well at the regional level and went on to compete at the state competition. Rohin Lohe placed first in the "Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering" category, and went on to place third at the state competition. Lohe will compete at the Kentucky Junior Academy of Sciences on April 27th. John Luan also won in the “Energy and Transportation” category at regionals.

Matt Weisenberger, Associate Director for Carbon Materials, is mentoring Lohe with a project titled "Finite Element Analysis of Heat Conduction through Interfaces: Modeling and Experimental Verification with Stainless Steel, Copper, and Multiwall Carbon Nanotube Arrays as Thermal Interface Materials." Lohe has been conducting his research at the UK CAER laboratory facilities and working directly with the Carbon Materials Research staff in completing the tests.

Finally, Lohe’s project included part of the expertise gained while working with CAER’s Electrochemical Power Sources group under the direction of Associate Director Steve Lipka.  John is working on a project entitled “Carbon-based Capacitive Thin Films for AC Line Filtering” in which the goal is to demonstrate whether carbon-based supercapacitors can be used as a lower-cost, more-dependable replacement for traditional electrolytic capacitors in electronic devices.  



Sustainable Williamson Hosts Tour for UK CAER Representative

clock March 25, 2013 13:46 by author Marybeth McAlister

 


Sustainable Williamson is buildng free-market model that provides people and communities the ability to be economically diverse, while creating jobs an opporunities.  Copley is pictured with SW's Eric Mathis

and Patriot CEO Roger Ford

   Sustainable Williamson (WVA) recently met with UK CAER's Greg Copley and provided him a tour of the work underway with the Sustainable Williamson development project.  Copley met with Eric Mathis, who is heading up the development project; Jenny Hudson, with the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition; and Roger Ford, Patriot Bioenergy CEO.

Copley toured the Smart Office, an innovative design concept for sustainable construction, and a solar power array located atop the historic Mountaineer Hotel in downtown Williamson, along with SW's community garden initiative that provides public housing residents nearby access to plots for farming and fresh produce.

SW is a free-market sustainable development approach to strengthen and revitalize Williamson, West Virginia.

 



UK CAER and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Fueling Capabilities

clock February 1, 2013 15:52 by author Alice

The city of Somerset has recently installed Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling capabilities. Currently CNG prices range from $1.50 to $2.00 gasoline gallon equivalent. This will result in considerable cost savings for the city. The facility is located at the city’s refueling station on Chapel Dairy Road. The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's Eastern Kentucky regional representative, Greg Copley, was on hand to observe a CNG powered Freightliner dump truck being refueled.

The dedicated fuel truck was in route from South Carolina to a truck show in Peoria, Illinois when the driver determined he needed to fuel up before making it to Louisville. He contacted the Somerset facility manager who agreed to sell enough CNG for the truck to get to Louisville.

One noticeable attribute of this type of vehicle is the lack of noise from the engine as it started and drove down the road. According to the driver, the truck has an automatic transmission and the truck seemed to handle hills well. Since this was the driver’s first experience driving this vehicle, its performance is still unknown at this point. There are four CNG tanks that can be operated separately or together to run the vehicle.



Engineers Professional Society Tours CAER Renewables Lab

clock January 11, 2013 17:40 by author Alice

 

The Bluegrass Chapter of the Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers (KSPE) toured the UK CAER Renewables Laboratory.  The group tours recently completed engineering projects and were very interested in this Murphy + Graves Architects project.  

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research recently completed construction on a new 43,000 square foot high-performance laboratory building that will allow expansion of the center's renewable and energy storage research. This research is devoted to Kentucky's growing renewable energy industries, including biomass and biofuels, electrochemical power sources (like capacitors and batteries), and distributed solar energy technologies.

The laboratory building design target was a 50 percent reduction in energy usage compared to similar facilities.



CAER to Help Advance UK HBEER Project

clock January 3, 2013 14:03 by author Alice

Recently the University of Kentucky received additional funding to help advance research in the Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER) project, which provides low-cost, energy efficient housing options to Kentuckians. The UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) will be developing public education framework about the HBEER project and disseminate findings throughout the state to bolster interest in energy efficient modular structures.

HBEER is a partnership between the UK College of Design, CAER, KHIC and the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC). The multi-year project was initiated in the fall of 2009 and directly responds to the impact the current economic downturn has had on the houseboat manufacturing industry in the Commonwealth. As part of the partnership, more than 50 students and faculty at the UK School of Architecture were responsible for researching and developing initial models of energy-efficient, affordable housing that could be produced by the region's houseboat manufacturers.

The next phases of the HBEER project includes a prototype for multifamily housing, as well as classroom space for schools as an energy efficient and more durable alternative to portable classrooms.

Read more of the story at UKNOW.


Energeia Newsletter Volume 23-4 now published (2012)

clock December 4, 2012 13:33 by author Alice

 

Energeia Newsletter Volume 20-4 now published

New <a href="http://www.caer.uky.edu/energeia/PDF/vol23_4.pdf">2012 Energeia Newsletter</a> now published, including:

  • Why China's energy scence is the new silk road;
  • What werewolves have to do with energy; and
  • Meeting announcements and much more.

 



CAER Advisory Board Meets Young Researchers

clock November 15, 2012 09:46 by author Marybeth McAlister

The Annual CAER Advisory Board meeting was a little different this year. Some of our younger researchers attended the board meeting and dinner, getting to meet and learn from the members of the board. Following the second day's program, several board members toured the CAER's new renewable fuels and energy storage research building.



CAER Takes Energy Research to Western Kentucky High Schools

clock November 5, 2012 09:54 by author Marybeth McAlister

Electricity isn’t magic — it's science. And on Thursday, Nov. 1, high school students from Union and Henderson County, along with students from the Earle C. Clements Job Corps Academy, learned just what allows them to use their iPhones, hair dryers, and other much-beloved electrical appliances. This interactive energy seminar featured researchers from the CAER and was part of the fourth annual Energy Week, sponsored by Plugged In-The Northwest Kentucky Energy Initiative.

Sarah Mardon, Western Kentucky energy coordinator for CAER, helped organize the event.

"We are excited to host the seminar for high school students for the second year in a row," she said. "It is important to further develop the students' understanding of how coal, a resource familiar to students from these counties, and its by-products, are used by utilities and industries. We also want to share the research we are performing at UK."

CAER researchers Jack Groppo and Robby Pace showed approximately 150 students the important role that minerals, such as coal, play in their lives.  They demonstrated how coal is used to make electricity and how technology is used to capture and recycle the ash that results from burning coal. 

They also discussed how algae are being developed to capture carbon dioxide from power plants, and how algae biomass can be used in several ways.

Afterward, the students viewed and learned about solar panels and wind turbines installed on the Job Corps site.

"We are very excited to host this educational event for local high school students and our Job Corps students," said Job Corps Business and Community Liaison Nyra Syers-Ford. "The Job Corps Academy solar panels and wind turbine, which power our material handling warehouse, are a highlight for students interested in alternative energy. This is our second year and we hope to continue and grow this great event."

Plugged In-The Northwest Kentucky Energy Initiative's goal is to support the region's energy producers, help develop work force training opportunities and educate students about energy-related fields. It also promotes northwest Kentucky as a potential leader in energy technology and innovation.

"With numerous students from across the region showing interest in energy related topics we look forward to another successful Energy Week in Northwest Kentucky," added Kevin Sheilley, president and CEO of Northwest Kentucky Forward.

The CAER maintains energy coordinators in western and eastern Kentucky. The purpose is to assist local governments and industry in the development of energy projects by introducing them to the capabilities of the center as well as the university as a whole.



Kentucky's Special Energy Subcommittee Meets and Tours CAER

clock October 30, 2012 15:05 by author Marybeth McAlister

UK President Eli Capilouto welcomed the Kentucky Special Energy Subcommittee to the Center for Applied Energy Research. The subcommittee held one of its regular meetings at the Center's new energy-efficient lab building and then toured the facility.



UK Energy Club 101 Seminar

clock October 25, 2012 10:45 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

The UK Energy Club will be hosting its third Energy 101 Seminar of the semester this Thursday October 25th at 7:00pm in the Marksbury Theater.  The seminar will be given by Chris Reeves of CMTA.and will be speaking about energy efficient building designs and net zero buildings.

The Marksbury Theater is located at 329 Rose St. between Avenue of Champions and Maxwell St.  It is directly behind Qdoba.



Energy Coordinators Exhibit at Ky Academy of Sciences

clock October 22, 2012 15:37 by author Marybeth McAlister

UKCAER Regional Energy Coordinators Sarah Mardon and Greg Copley exhibited at the recent Kentucky Academy of Sciences Meeting.