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.

CAER Connects with Children at UK's Engineering Day

clock February 26, 2014 17:01 by author Alice

 

CAER was one of many exhibitor participants at the 2014 University of Kentucky's Engineering Day event held on the UK Campus on February 22nd.

 

Jack Groppo, a long-time CAER engineer, interacted with a lot of youngsters, even high school students hailing all the way from Harlan, Kentucky. The CAER and the UK Energy Club teamed together to use a bicycle to demonstrate energy conservation. Each child could ride the bike and see how much work it took to light up different types of light bulbs.

 

The CAER supports STEM educational outreach in many ways, including the CAER101 project - a "scientists in the classroom" approach using hands-on demos that support 4th grade curriculum.


UK CAER Hosts Workshop for Targeting Ideas to Foundations

clock February 18, 2014 17:46 by author Alice

The UK Office of Proposal Development prepared a workshop for CAER scientists regarding how to locate funding opportunities.

 

Using the SPIN Database to Find Funding Opportunities - This session provided information about the Sponsored Projects Information Network (SPIN) funding database, UK’s primary tool for detailed funding searches of both federal and private agencies. Participants will be introduced to the features of SPIN and will learn how to conduct their own advanced funding searches.

 

Targeting ideas to Foundations - This talk described the types of foundations that might be good targets for CAER research and how they differ from federal agencies.  We will identify some strategies for finding appropriate foundations and talk about the elements in a letter of inquiry, a common first step in approaching foundations.



Podcast of Dr. Wesley Burnett - CAER Seminar Speaker

clock February 17, 2014 18:54 by author Alice

The University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research has published another podcast for individuals interested in energy issues. It explored the topic of Sustainable Energy Development: An economic perspective by Dr. Wesley Burnett from the University of West Virginia, USA.

- Podcast and PPT File

Economics is a social science concerned with the allocation of scarce resources for satisfying unlimited wants. Given the exhaustibility of fossil fuels and concerns over global climate change, economic science provides an approach to better understand energy markets. The burning of fossil fuels result in economic and environmental consequences that are not always reflected in the prices of the resources. These “hidden costs” or externalities result in market failure, as the market fails to generate the efficient level of pollution control. In the case of stock pollutants, externalities can be particularly severe, arguably resulting in costs to future generations. Government intervention is often necessary in the presence of market failure.

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is an economic tool used to evaluate the equivalent value of benefits and costs of a particular project for a community. CBA is useful to establish whether such a project is worthwhile.

In this discussion, I shall address basic economic concepts including energy economics as a science, externalities, market failure, property rights, and cost-benefit analysis. The purpose of the discussion is to educate non-economist about these basic economic principles in attempt to bridge the gap between science and engineering.



UK College of Design Senior Project at UK CAER

clock February 17, 2014 17:25 by author Alice
UK CAER is working with a UK College of Design student to create educational stations for use at various research site locations through the CAER campus. Jessica Neiser, a UK CoD interiors student, will be conducting her senior thesis project by designing a "system" that can be followed to develop these potential educational materials or "stops" throughout the center.


UK CAER Begins Work on the Local Government Energy Retrofit Program

clock February 17, 2014 17:21 by author Alice

The UK CAER recently received a Local Government Energy Retrofit Program grant. The scope is to work with local governments around the state to help them through the process of contracting with Energy Service Contractors to improve the efficiency of their facilities. Greg Copley is the contact person for this service.



Centre College Freshman Students Tour UK CAER

clock January 29, 2014 09:24 by author Alice

A group of Centre College freshman and their professor, Marie Nydam, recently toured the UK Center laboratories. Their course is on the effects of coal mining and the students are always interested in solutions to the environmental and economic problems they see as they tour Eastern Kentucky. Ms. Nydam felt that CAER would be a great place to visit to see research being completed so that it may become the basis of future solutions.

The students toured the coal combustion research lab; saw a briqetting demo; heard details about coal mine fires; talked with researchers about CO2 capture; learned a great deal about biofuels potential; heard a discussion about energy storage options and toured the CAER's energy efficient laboratory.



Tribute to Marybeth McAlister, Long-time CAER Employee

clock January 24, 2014 11:01 by author Alice
  Marybeth McAlister, longtime Communications Manager at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), died of complications of influenza and pneumonia on January 8, 2014, at the UK Medical Center. She was 53.

 

In December 2012, Marybeth had a cord blood stem cell transplant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to counter her chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Within six months she was cancer free.

 

Darrell Taulbee, Industrial Support Coordinator/Senior Scientist at CAER and one of Marybeth's close friends, said, "There are so many superlatives that describe Marybeth. If I were forced to choose just one ...Read the full Tribute


Great Graphic Showing Forecasting of Natural Gas Prices

clock December 19, 2013 11:22 by author Marybeth McAlister

Forecasting #naturalgas prices has been notoriously difficult to do. @EIAgov #AEO2014 #natgas #energy #Kentucky pic.twitter.com/MQuPq1IMCA



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.