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.

Seed Projects Starting to Blossom

clock January 13, 2016 11:49 by author David Melanson

The success of the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research’s seed grant program was on full display Wednesday, as UK CAER investigators presented early-stage research projects to fellow CAER colleagues.

CAER’s seed grant program was created to bridge the divide between internal creative ideas and large government grants and/or industrial funding, with the objective being to develop a process of converting new research concepts into competitive proposals.

The success of the program can best be illustrated by the results. Since January 2013, CAER has invested $430,000 into seed projects. Those same projects have generated more than $940,000 in external funding and seven published papers. In fact, of the five external proposals submitted on behalf of seed projects, all five have received funding.

“The results are pretty obvious,” said Andrews. “We knew that CAER investigators had some novel concepts that simply needed some start-up funding to get off the ground, and this program allowed us to fund those innovative, early-stage ideas. It is exciting to see these concepts grow and receive support from external agencies, as they move into the next phase of discovery.”

On Wednesday, the following projects were spotlighted during the seed grant poster presentations event at CAER. These projects were all funded in 2015.

 

  • Michael Wilson, Stephanie Kesner, and Daniel Mohler - Integrating Algal Based CO2 Utilization and Waste Water Treatment

Photosynthetically grown microalgae have the potential to recycle many waste streams, including CO2 emissions and municipal, agricultural, or industrial waste water.  Samples were obtained from the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government Division of Water Quality to evaluate the suitability of waste water as a nutrient source and habitat to culture microalgae.  Ion chromatography was used to evaluate various waste water streams from the Town Branch wastewater treatment plant and to track nutrient uptake of algae cultures. Although the waste streams sampled did not contain high values of usable nutrients, it’s suitability as an industrial scale habitat was verified.

 

  • Tristana Duvallet and Anne Oberlink - Sulfate-Activated Class C Fly Ash Based Cements

Recent research in the Environmental and Coal Technologies (ECT) group has determined that Wyodak coal source Class C fly ash can be activated through a sulfation mechanism with anhydrite to produce the fly ash equivalent of a “super-sulfated cement.” This constitutes a discovery that is of significance. Concretes and mortars produced with high levels of coal combustion products (CCPs) or supplemental cementitious materials (SCMs), such as fly ash or slag, in place of Portland cement can develop strength by the activation of the alumina and silica phases of the materials using strong alkalis (i.e. alkali activation, aka “geopolymer”). The alkali that is used as the activator is typically sodium or potassium silicate in combination with sodium or potassium hydroxide, and various alkalis, e.g. borates, citrates, sulfonates, etc. Drawbacks to this approach include: erratic setting, either lack of, or very slow setting or flash setting; slow strength development that may require curing at elevated temperatures; rheological problems with the concrete or mortars themselves, i.e. they become “sticky”; worker safety issues since high levels of sodium hydroxide exposure are dangerous; and long-term issues with surface efflorescence. Sulfation activation was thought to be a phenomenon restricted to ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) cement. The observation that a supersulfated cement can be based entirely on Class C fly ash instead of GGBFS, overcoming the drawbacks of alkali activation, has the potential to lead to a new generation of low energy, low CO2 concretes and mortars.

  • Robert C. Pace - Biomass Fractionation via a Semi-continuous Method: Lignin Extraction with Ionic Liquids

Ionic Liquids (ILs) are highly adaptable organic salts which are liquid at room temperature. As a consequence of these properties, ILs are enormously effective in the dissolution of lignocellulosic biomass.  Given the tremendous interest in the production of renewable fuels and chemicals from lignocellulose, these solvents present a novel pathway toward the fractionation of lignocellulose into its three primary components; cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Fractionation of these compounds is necessary for the use of the whole of the biomass, a requirement for cost-effective production from these feedstocks. To date, nearly all biomass fractionation using ILs has been conducted in batch processes. Since continuous extraction systems are often more energy efficient and economical, this project will set out to construct a semi-continuous extraction system which is capable of overcoming the high viscosities of ILs. In order to discern the effects of various functionalities as well as the impact of cation/anion effects, five ILs will be examined as extraction solvents. The products of these fractionation experiments will also be analyzed by various means, including thermogravimetric analysis, pyrolysis-GCMS and gel permeation chromatography.  This work will lead not only to valuable data which can be utilized in publications and future grant proposals, but will also generate an apparatus which is capable of producing unique IL extracted biomaterials which could be sold as commodity products and utilized by students in their own research projects within the BEC group.

  • Chad Risko, Adam Rigby and Karl Thorley, - A Computational, Shape-Based Approach to Crystal Engineering

Organic semiconductors (OSC) are experiencing rapid application growth in consumer electronics, with OSC poised to serve a key role in next generation flexible, conformable, and wearable electronics. However, the reliance on largely Edisonian discovery processes results in significant development and production costs – in terms of personnel, materials, characterization equipment, and time – for new, molecular-based OSCs. High-performance computing, when combined with the tool set and know-how of the synthetic chemist, offers a means to overcome many of these costs. Through a joint collaboration between the Anthony and Risko groups, we are developing an innovative computational approach to determine how the interplay between of molecular shape and explicit chemical functionality drive molecular packing in the solid state, a key determinant of OSC performance. The development of the computational platform will allow for rapid approximations of molecular packing structures, with relevant solutions arriving within days and weeks rather than the months required for synthesis and characterization, along with the ability to screen varied and unusual molecular designs that may otherwise go untried. Through the course of the work, the research team has improved understanding as to how solid-state molecular conformations impact the intermolecular electronic coupling, a key parameter directing charge-carrier transport in these materials. The project introduced a new concept, the disordermer, into the crystal engineering lexicon, and shown how changes in chemical composition can be manifest on crystalline order and the resulting charge-carrier transport properties. The lab has also made considerable headway in terms of developing a model that reveals how adjustments in the overall molecular shape and volume direct solid-state packing. The work has resulted in three peer-reviewed publications (two published and one submitted) and one proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation.

  • Rafael Franca and John Craddock - A New Approach to Novel Zeolite Hollow Fiber Membranes for Dewatering and Enrichment Separations in CO2 Capture Process

Zeolite membrane-based technology for dewatering of aqueous amine-based CO2 sorbents, has the capability to significantly decrease the energy required for CO2 capture from coal-fired power plants. Membrane enabled dewatering of CO2 saturated amine solvent, reduces the thermal energy required by the stripper during solvent regeneration by commensurately reducing the volume of water to be heated. The hollow fiber membrane (HFM) geometry provides high surface area to volume and high permselectivity. These membranes have the potential to increase selectivity and flux in membrane-based dewatering processes when compared to conventional tubular membranes. In this work, we introduced the preparation of a novel, polymer-assisted processing of a Y Zeolite HFM support. The preparation method proposed is based on air-gap solution spinning of a polymer (polyethersulfone (PES)) solution containing highly dispersed mullite particles, followed by thermal treatment to pyrolize the polymer and sinter the mullite particles into an HFM form. It is expected that this new design (HFM) would greatly increase flux and selectivity of Y zeolite membranes for the dewatering of carbon-loaded amine solvents. Preliminary results indicated that mullite based hollow fiber supports did not present enough mechanical resistance after the sintering process. Zeolite Y crystals have been successfully grown on the outside surface of PES hollow fiber supports, however some level of degradation was observed when the support was exposed to the carbon loaded amine solvent. It is not clear if the degradation process affects the porosity of the PES hollow fiber support. Further tests will be conducted with PES hollow fibers to analyze the viability of using PES as a support for Y-zeolite hollow fibers.

  • Christopher Swartz, "Hybrid Redox Flow Battery for Stationary Energy Storage Applications

The capability to store electricity is on track to become an integral component of the future electrical grid. Emerging technologies found in the grid storage portfolio include pumped hydro energy storage, compressed air energy storage, thermal and flywheel energy storage, and various electrochemical energy storage options, including redox flow batteries. Redox flow batteries share many similarities with fuel cells, and are rechargeable, modular battery systems where energy storage and power performance can be decoupled from one another due to the battery architecture. The all-vanadium redox flow battery represents the current state-of-the-art in flow battery technology, and numerous demonstration units have been installed worldwide, ranging from kW, kWh to MW, MWh capabilities. The relatively high cost of these systems has prevented widespread adoption of flow battery technology, and new flow battery systems featuring lower cost chemistries and ion exchange membranes (when compared to vanadium and Nafion®, respectively) remain highly attractive candidates to move flow batteries along on a forward trajectory to the commercial marketplace. The Electrochemical Power Sources Group proposes to develop a low-cost hybrid redox flow battery as an alternative to the all-vanadium system, based on aqueous iron and zinc electrochemistry. The cathode will feature plating and stripping of Zn metal during cell charge and discharge. The anode will feature the Fe2+/Fe3+ redox couple, with the addition of various ligands or chelating agents which will bind to iron, and lead to higher operating cell voltage and energy density.



UK CAER, ACAA and EPRI to Host Winter Workshop

clock January 6, 2016 15:19 by author David Melanson

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER), the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are co-sponsoring a Workshop on Current Issues in Ponded Coal Combustion Products (CCPs) February 3-4 in Tampa, Florida.

The workshop will be held immediately following the ACAA 2016 Winter Meeting, which will be held at the Hilton Downtown Tampa February 2-3.

Registration for both the winter meeting and workshop is now available online. For more information and to register for this exciting educational and networking opportunity, visit the following website: http://www.worldofcoalash.org/ash/.



UK CAER Scientists Published in Shotcrete

clock January 4, 2016 08:29 by author David Melanson

A pair of research scientists from the UK Center for Applied Energy Research’s (UK CAER) environmental coal technologies group had an article published in the Fall 2015 edition of Shotcrete magazine. Anne Oberlink and Robert Jewell penned the piece entitled “Rapidly Deployable Shotcrete System for the Structural Stabilization of Shock-Damaged Structures.” You can read the entire article here.



Podcast of UK CAER Seminar Speaker - Professor Bittnar

clock December 3, 2015 16:04 by author Alice
Podcast of CAER Seminar Speaker - Professor Bittnar

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 Validation of Multiscale Model for Heat Generation in Hardening Concreteby Professor Bittnar, Civil Engineering, Fellow of the Engineering Academy - Czech Technical University.

- Podcast and PPT File

Temperature rise in hydrating concrete presents a formidable problem that may lead to significant acceleration of hydration kinetics, early-age cracking, and decreased durability. Multiscale formulation was developed, coupling a cement hydration model on the microscale with the finite element method (FEM) solving heat conduction problem on the macroscale. Although discrete hydration model predicts heat evolution controlled by macroscale temperature, the FEM satisfies heat balance equation during thermal conduction. 2D validations show reasonable temperature agreement with an access to the local quantities, such as a degree of hydration. Here, this multiscale and coupled model is validated against two in situ bridge constructions.



Bluegrass GreenSource Teachers Tour the UK CAER

clock November 12, 2015 15:56 by author Alice
Scientists from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research spent the morning talking with fourth grade and junior high teachers from various locations across Kentucky. UK CAER engineers and chemists talked about the various energy projects that are currently being pursued at the Center.



The teachers were part of a professional development program sponsored by Bluegrass GreenSource and DEDI Coal and Energy Education section (DEDI is the Department for Energy Development and Independence part of Kentucky's Energy and Environment Cabinet) of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


UK CAER Researchers Explain -- What It Is Like to be Scientist!

clock October 23, 2015 15:43 by author Alice
University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Researchers - David Eaton, Anne Oberlink and Shiela Medina talked to five 4th grade classes at Lexington's Tates Creek Elementary Career Day about what it is like to be a scientist and specifically doing research in the energy industry. They talked about all the forms of energy and how electricity is made from coal. The focus was on what comes out of a power plant; electricity, ash and flue gas.

Anne Oberlink talked about the work of a chemist that develops various types of concrete from flyash. David Eaton talked about making higher value products from coal such as dyes and carbon fiber. (pictured above)


UK CAER Staffers Recognized as 2015 Lab Inspection Rock Stars!

clock September 10, 2015 10:47 by author Alice

Recently several University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research scientists, technicians and students were recognized for exceptional laboratory safety measures and appreciation for the job well done during recent lab safety inspections.  Parameters included multiple labs with no safety violations. 

Ruthann Chaplin, CAER Safety Officer was happy to celebrate these successes during a recent CAER staff event by wishing congratulations to the following:  (pictured left to right):  Anne Oberlink, Nicholas Linck, Tristana Duvallet, Sarah Edrington, Ashley Morris, Matt, Weisenberger,, Tom Robl; (back row):  John Craddock, John Wiseman, Kevin Henke, Jim Hower; (not pictured):  Dalia Qian, Jordan Burgess, Nik Hochstrasser, Kyle Schutte, Bob Jewell, Ruben Sarabia.

 



UK CAER's Jim Hower Interviewed for Rare Earths Project in PowerSource Magazine

clock August 26, 2015 09:29 by author Alice

The rarest of them all --Could coal ash save your smartphone? Researchers try to find out ...

 

That is the title of the article published in PowerSource which interviewed Dr. James Hower, Petrologist and Scientist at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research.  The following is excerpts taken from the article:

The crux of the matter is that iPhones draw their properties from rare earth elements, a 15-chunk block of lanthanides at the base of the periodic table, plus the metals scandium and yttrium. By 2010, China had cornered nearly 95 percent of the world’s production of rare earths and had begun to choke exports, which caused prices to skyrocket.

Back in his lab at the University of Kentucky, Jim Hower, a geologist, started to see a wave of interest in his research like never before. Mr. Hower has been sampling slabs of Appalachian coal and its waste products and cataloging their rare earth element concentrations for years. Dr. Hower and researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey have done a lot of the cataloging of coal characteristics across the country. Now there seems to be an increased interest in rare earths from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Read the full PowerSource story.

PowerSource is a companion online resource to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and is created in addition to a weekly print section highlighting the region’s diverse energy industry — and putting that news into context.



UK CAER Staff Co-authors for Paper Featured in COP Highlights

clock July 23, 2015 17:33 by author Alice
UK CAER Scientist Dr. James C. Hower and Mr. Greg Copley, UK CAER Eastern Kentucky Coordinator are co-authors on a paper that the College of Pharmacy Research Advisory Council selected for the May COP Monthly Publications Highlights.

The paper, "Terfestatins B and C, New p-Terphenyl Glycosides Produced by Streptomyces sp. RM-5-8" was recently published in Organic Letters, 2015, 17 (11), pp.2796-2799, (DOI: 10.1021/asc.orglett.5b01203). Organic Letters is an ACS Publications journal.

"A natural product discovery from a Kentucky coal mine fire site that shows promise in battling alcohol dependence is the UK College of Pharmacy Research Publication Highlight for June 2015." Read the rest of the story ...


UK CAER Projected Mentioned in Power Engineering International Magazine

clock June 12, 2015 08:55 by author Alice
In a March 18, 2015 article from the Power Engineering International Magazine that was entitled "Managing Coal Ash", the University of Kentucky's Rare Earth Elements project was mentioned as a research group that is working to develop the growing area of coal ash use in the extraction of desirable rare earth metals.

Jim Hower and Jack Groppo from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research and Dr. Rick Honaker of the UK Mining Engineering department and Cortland Eble at the Kentucky Geological Survey are the scientists working on this project.


2015 Science Fair High School Students Interning at UK CAER

clock June 11, 2015 15:31 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research hosts several local Lexington high school senior interns each year. The students create a specific project and then are advised, mentored and also work along side the scientists on that project in the CAER laboratories. These projects will result in the high school seniors presenting their results at local, district and state science fairs.

 

High school senior Kristen Moore competed in the District Science Fair and was awarded the Mayor's Urban Environmental Award. She then completed in the regional science fair. Axel Kiefer from Tates Creek High School also competed in the district science fair, in the environmental science category. Both Kristen and Axel worked with the UK CAER Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Research group under the leadership of Dr. Mark Crocker.

 

Madison Hood, Kentucky High School Senior from Dunbar High School won first place in her topical category at the District Science Fair. She interned with Dr. James Hower, UK Petrology Lab.


UK CAER's History with Petrographers

clock June 11, 2015 15:12 by author Alice
Jim Hower, UK CAER (far left), with his PhD students (Trent – 2015 anticipated; Jen – 2008, Joan – 1990).

 

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research hosted a rather informal meeting of petrographers that have previously worked at the CAER. The large group was a happy coincidence of Maria, Agnieszka, and Ali coming down from Bloomington, Indiana, and Joan Esterle just happening to be in the area while visiting family in Louisville, Kentucky (see photo above).

 

From left to right: Trent Garrison (Kentucky PhD student), Jim Hower (University of Kentucky CAER), Ali Karayigit (Hacettepe Univ., Turkey), Joan Esterle (Univ. Queensland), Jen O’Keefe (Morehead State Univ.), and Maria Mastalerz and Agnieszka Drobniak (Indiana Geological Survey).


Utilitiy Economic Group Tours UK CAER

clock February 5, 2015 11:13 by author Alice

THE LG&E/KU Economic Analysis group tour UK CAER on the afternoon of February 4th.  They toured several research areas in the renewables Lab 2; minerals and carbon labs; and the algae greenhouse. 



New Research Funded at UK CAER

clock January 22, 2015 16:28 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research has again made funding available to provide seed grant opportunities to CAER researchers to collaborate in exploring new energy-related ideas and to open up new avenues of research. This program, the "brainchild" of Directory Rodney Andrews, was established to bridge the divide between internal creative ideas and large government grants and/or industrial funding, with the objective being to develop a process of converting new research concepts into competitive proposals. The success of this program since its inception is obvious with 3 papers written; 4 proposals written and all 4 proposals funded for a total of nearly $800,00.00 of external funding!     For the second year, the CAER Staff gathered to hear presentations given by 8 different young scientists that received a "seed" grant during 2014.

 

Leland Widger - Presenter - Catalytic Hydrogenation of Carbon-Loaded Amine Solutions for CO2 Capture and Utilization (co-authors Cameron Lippert): Much effort in recent research has focused on the direct activation of CO2 by hydrogenation catalysts for reduction by molecular H2 to methanol. However, the direct activation of gaseous CO2 and the subsequent reduction by 3 reducing equivalents is a difficult and energy-intensive transformation. We proposed to combine the advantages of amine-based CCS, the activation of CO2 by aqueous amines, with the utility of reduction catalysts to obtain an accessible and valuable chemical feedstock, formic acid. Hydrogenation by a single reducing equivalent would be more atom-efficient than methanol production, but the feasibility of direct reduction of carbamate in aqueous solution needed to be evaluated.

 

Bob Jewell - Presenter - Evaluation of Pure Ettringite/MWCNT Array Layered Composite for Piezoelectric Effect - (co-authors Anne Oberlink and Ashley Morris): The overarching objective of this research is to functionalize calcium sulfoaluminate (CSA) cements for energy harvesting and as a smart-sensing construction material. The discovery and characterization of ettringite, the primary strength contributor in CSA cement, as a piezoelectric crystal phase will create new knowledge on energy harvesting from CSA cement materials. The data on material properties and piezoelectric potential of ettringite-rich cementitious structural elements will not only enable the functionalization of construction materials as energy harvesting components but also will lay a solid foundation for future piezoelectric cementitious design. This project was awarded a National Science Foundation Grant for $309,737; which was directly related to the results from the CAER Seed Research Grant.

 

Nick Holubowitch - Presenter - Scavenging Waste Heat with Carbon Nanotubes in Thermelectrochemical Cells - (co-authors Cameron Lippert, James Landon): The work investigated the conversion of waste heat, a ubiquitous form of currently untapped energy, to electricity, a usable, concentrated form, using thermoelectrochemical cells. The Carbon group provided low-cost spray coated carbon nanotube (CNT) electrodes which were subjected to a variety of optimizations in our custom built device for thermal energy scavenging. We constructed a cell capable of delivering a mass activity of 290 W kg-1 CNTs by only using 0.08 mg cm-2 (<$0.01 per cell) of this normally cost-prohibitive material. The findings should be of broader interest to myriad energy storage and conversion technologies seeking to exploit the attractive properties of carbon nanotubes. The seed funding led to a full grant ($94,000) from the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence.

 

Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez - Presenter - Carbon-supported Molybdenum Carbide Catalysts for Bio-oil Hydrodeoxygenation - (co-authors Robert Pace, Ashley Morris, John Craddock): Albeit carbide catalysts have been proposed as a replacement for the problematic and/or expensive formulations used to catalyze several reactions, bulk (unsupported) carbides display surface areas inadequately low for catalytic applications. In the work funded with this seed grant, researchers in the Biofuels & Environmental Catalysis group increased the surface area of molybdenum carbide catalysts through the use of carbon supports developed by researchers of the Carbon Materials group. The resulting carbon-supported carbide catalysts not only showed superior performance in a reaction modeling the upgrading of biomass-derived oils, but synthetic parameters were found to control the structure of these formulations, which provides a way to further improve – and understand – their performance. Notably, the results of this project have already been submitted for publication.

 

Yaying Ji - Presenter - Development of Bifunctional Catalysts for Reductive Depolymerization of Lignin into Value-Added Chemicals - (co-authors Robert Pace, Dali Qian): Lignin is a principal constituent of lignocellulosic biomass (15-30% by weight, 40% by energy), so it has potential to act as a feedstock for the renewable production of a wide variety of bulk and fine chemicals. Depolymerization of lignin to valuable chemicals is challenging due to its recalcitrance. Our goal is to develop a less expensive Ni-based catalytic approach for conversion of lignin into aromatic chemicals.

 

Robert Hodgen - Presenter - Construction and Demonstration of a Torrefaction Kiln for Bio-char Production - (co-author Darrell Taulbee): Torrefaction is process in which raw biomass is heated under relatively mild conditions in an autogenous atmosphere. Torrefied biomass formed into pellets or briquettes have numerous advantages relative to raw biomass including a higher heating value, higher energy density, and a greater resistance to water degradation as well as a significant advantage that bio-char agglomerates can be processed and co-fired in existing power plants without the need for specialized feed or pulverization equipment. This study, which focused on kiln construction followed by the production and evaluation of briquettes made with torrefied biomass, revealed that a relatively mild pyrolysis temperature of 200 oC appeared to be optimum in terms of producing the most suitable briquetter feedstock. Further, these mild conditions resulted in relatively little loss of volatile matter yet provided a substantial improvement in calorific value and improved resistance to water degradation.

 

Jesse Thompson - Presenter - CO2 Capture Solvent Purification with Adsorbant Bio-Char from Algae: Preparation, Characterization and Adsorption Studies - (coauthors Sarah Honchul, Robert Pace): The bio-char residue produced as a by-product from thermal treatments of algal biomass for biofuel production was evaluated, without any additional upgrading, for its ability to adsorb operational contaminant (amines and heavy metals) from carbon capture solvents. The bio-char from pyrolysis, hydrothermal liquefaction and torrefaction of algal biomass grown in bioreactors with carbon dioxide from a coal burning power plant showed comparable adsorption of the amine contaminants compared to a commercial activated carbon. Adsorption of heavy metals was comparably low with the bio-char evaluated. Additional upgrading with acid treatments, activation at higher temperatures, or alumina-modification may improve the metal adsorption of this bio-char.

 

Michael Wilson - Presenter - Upcycling of Brewery Byproducts Using Microalgae - (coauthors and pictured left is Thomas Grubbs and C. Cecil; Stephanie Kesner, not pictured): The CAER has a unique opportunity to collaborate on a sustainable project with two progressive Lexington organizations, West Sixth Brewing Company and FoodChain. Spent grains from the brewing process at West Sixth are currently combined with a protein source to feed tilapia grown by FoodChain. The water, containing organic nutrients excreted by the fish, is then circulated through an aquaponic system with the nutrients being used to grow traditional crops, such as lettuce, herbs, and microgreens. This seed grant proposal suggests that the CO2 from the brewing process could be used to grow protein rich algae, which would—in turn—replace the current protein supplement being incorporated into the spent grains to be fed to the tilapia, thereby effectively closing the system. Working with senior students from Chemical Engineering and Architecture/Sustainability, CAER staff evaluated the potential process and concluded that an algae system sized to utilize all of the CO2 emissions from the brewing process would take up half an acre and produce enough protenacious algae meal to scale up FoodChains operations by 100 times.


Jim Hower, UK CAER Scientist, Quoted in WLEX18 Story

clock January 16, 2015 11:14 by author Alice

In an investigative reporting piece on coal fires near Berea, Dr. Jim Hower was contacted for comment:

Jim Hower, a University of Kentucky researcher who studies Kentucky's underground fires, said the smoke can produce carcinogens. However, he said it likely doesn't present a health risk as long as people stay away from the plumes.


“In the course of being outside, walking by these fires, you want some protections, but they're also probably not in the concentration, or the length of exposure and intensity of exposure that are going to cause an immediate danger to somebody,” he said. “They smell bad, and it's certainly something you don't want to be living with.”


The full story can be viewed here on LEX18's website.



UK CAER Carbon Associate Director Quoted in Lane Report

clock January 9, 2015 14:11 by author Alice

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The LANE REPORT, a publication that covers business and economic news from across Kentucky, recently focused on the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's efforts in dealing with issues that affect the competitiveness of Kentucky's coal. Per the report ...

"Scientists at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research are exploring ways to improve the ecological impact of fuel coal and investigating whether it is feasible to turn it into a versatile, non-fuel raw material for industry. CAER’s research focuses include employing algae to gobble up carbon dioxide from power plants’ emissions, better managing waste coal ash, and transforming coal into high-strength, lightweight carbon fiber."

"The coal research complements a plethora of other energy studies CAER’s team of geologists, chemists and engineers of various disciplines are undertaking. They also are investigating biodiesel uses, advanced battery construction, renewable energy, and more."

"Explorations into remediation of coal-fired power plants emissions is CAER researchers’ top job, a mission shared with energy scientists the world over, according to Matt Weisenberger, the center’s associate director."

"The question is whether the various strategies CAER and other energy institutes are reviewing, is financially viable and scalable enough to counter criticisms of coal as a fuel source."

The complete Lane Report Article on UK CAER.

 



UK CAER and KGS hold first EUOGS Conference

clock December 4, 2014 09:45 by author Alice

The Kentucky Geological Survey and Center for Applied Energy Research at the University of Kentucky teamed up to co-sponsor the first Eastern Unconventional Oil & Gas Symposium,  held at the Hilton in downtown Lexington, November 5-7.

Unconventional energy resource production refers to the use of non-traditional methods of oil and gas extraction or production from rocks not previously thought to have hydrocarbon potential. These include shales and low permeability sandstone. The boom in unconventional production has been driven in recent years by new technologies that can enhance oil and gas production from previously unrecoverable resources.

The conference was targeted for, but not limited to oil and gas producing areas in the Appalachian and Michigan basins, and addressed a number of upstream and downstream issues related to energy production, including:

  • Upstream Side: horizontal drilling, fracture stimulation, regulations, water issues, pipelines, induced seismicity, geology, and related topics.
  • Downstream Side: impacted by issues with regulated utilities, natural gas vehicles, sustainability, environmental impacts, and other focus areas.

There were well over 100 attendees from a half-dozen countries there to hear over 30 presentations on regulations, water treatment, geologic formations, and a variety of of new technologies and techniques. Keynote speakers included:

  • Dr. Len Peters, Secretary of the KY Energy Cabinet on Kentucky’s energy plan in a changing energy environment,
  • Duane Schrader of Louisville Gas and Electric, on Natural Gas generation from utilities’ persepctive,
  • Joe Morris, VP of Geology at EQT, on regional development,
  • Rich Haut of HARC, on gas flaring,
  • Mark Jergens of Midwest Energy Logistics, on gas and liquid markets.

Overall, the symposium was well-received, and interest in continuing the conference was high.



Tekcrete Fast Demonstration

clock November 13, 2014 10:27 by author Alice

Tekcrete applied to two portland cement beams and one water pipe.On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, along with their commercialization partner Orica USA, headed down to College Station, Texas to demonstrate the commercial product, Tekcrete Fast, and its delivery system. This research was supported by funding provided by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, Science & Technology Directorate, through a technology development and deployment program managed by The National Institute for Hometown Security. 

Tekcrete Fast is a rapidly setting, high strength gunite mix that can be used by rescue personnel to help protect them as they work at a disaster site. It also affords protection to victims trapped in damaged buildings, guarding them against potential collapse and additional harm.

The system is composed of a delivery vehicle capable of concreting or grouting prepackaged fiber reinforced cements, mortars and micro- aggregated concretes that are strong and rapidly setting. A range of compositions of cements have been tested that demonstrate high compressive and bonding strengths after only five hours of curing and structural strength in as little as 15 minutes.    

The demonstration consisted of three damaged Portland concrete beams set in the ground in a vertical manner, to replicate damaged structural beams, as well as a damaged water pipe. Tekcrete Fast was sprayed to repair those damaged items, and then tested three hours later. The beams were placed in a compressive strength machine, and compressed until a failure point was reached. It was concluded that the Portland concrete beams broke outside of the damaged areas where the Tekcrete Fast was sprayed, meaning the Tekcrete Fast was stronger than the actual Portland concrete beams themselves.

The UK CAER Environmental and Coal Technologies research group scientists involved in the demo were Tom Robl, Anne Oberlink, and Bob Jewell.



November 2014 Eastern Unconventional Oil & Gas Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky

clock October 16, 2014 10:36 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research and the UK Kentucky Geological Survey are collaborating for an inaugural symposium focusing on unconventional oil and gas in the Eastern US.

The Eastern Unconventional Oil and Gas Symposium ("EUOGS," http://www.euogs.org/) is being held in Lexington, Kentucky, November 5-7, 2014. The symposium seeks to address a broad range of upstream and downstream issues related to energy production from emerging resources in the northeast United States.

To register for the EUOGS event. http://www.euogs.org/register.html

The agenda/schedule can be found on the website: http://www.euogs.org/agenda.html



Governor Conference Attendees Tour UK CAER

clock October 16, 2014 09:55 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research recently offered a tour to attendees from the 2014 Governor's Conference on Energy and the Environment. CAER investigates energy technologies to improve the environment. Researchers contribute to technically sound policies related to fossil and renewable energy.

Tour participants learned about coal beneficiation, utilization and conversion process technologies; fuel use; coal combustion by-products; engineered fuels; derivation of high added-value materials and chemicals; and renewable energy such as biofuels and bioenergy, electrochemistry, solar energy and environmental remediation.