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.

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.


Engineer and Post Doc Positions Available at UK CAER

clock January 20, 2015 10:13 by author Alice
The following positions are accepting applications from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research:

- Homogeneous Catalysis Postdoctoral Researcher - primary responsibility will be in catalyst development and evaluation
- CO2 Capture Chemical Engineer - primary responsibility will be in chemical looping combustion and gasification technology development and evaluation
- Chemical Looping Combustion Postdoctoral Researcher - primary responsibility will be in chemical looping combustion and gasification technology development and evaluation
- CO2 Capture Solvent Degradation and Analysis PostDoctoral Researcher - s primary responsibility will be in solvent degradation, gas phase emissions monitoring and analytical method development (with a specific focus on nitrosamines and heavy metal)


UK CAER Carbon Associate Director Quoted in Lane Report

clock January 9, 2015 14:11 by author Alice

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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 Presents Workshop at 10th Annual GEMS Event

clock December 4, 2014 10:31 by author Alice

UK CAER Staff were workshop presenters at the 10th anniversary of the Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) event at the University of Kentucky, an event organized by the Girl Scouts of America. This event, their biggest to date with over 340 scouts in attendance, offers a number of hands-on and instructional workshops in the STEM fields.

Since 2005, the Girl Scouts Kentucky Wilderness Road Council and the UK College of Engineering has hosted the event, a series of workshops designed to teach girls about careers in science, the scientific method, how science is used in daily life, and how much math and science are connected.

Courtney Fisk, Stephanie Kesner, Sarah Peak, and Anne Oberlink ran a workshop on power generation. Students were shown how power is generated, and the basics of turbine power generation, and given the chance to use simple turbines and hand crank generators to light LEDs and power fans respectively. They were shown how electricity is measured, using a multimeter. Also, the basics of electricity transport were shown using simple circutis, batteries, buzzers, and fans.



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.



New Positions Available from UK CAER PowerGen Research Group

clock November 12, 2014 19:06 by author Alice
Two new positions have been posted from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's Power Generation Research group. A CO2 Capture Chemical Engineer is being sought as well as a Post Doc in Chemical Looping Combustion and Gasification.

For more information, check the PowerGen web section under the JOBS tab: http://www.caer.uky.edu/powergen/home.shtml.


PostDoc Researcher CO2 Capture Solvent Position is Open at UK CAER

clock October 24, 2014 15:40 by author Alice
The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (@UKCAER) is looking for an individual to fill a position/job for CO2 capture solvent and degradation and analysis. The successful candidate will develop test methods to identify and quantify solvent degradation products including nitrosamines as related CO2 capture processes. Other responsibilities will include developing gas phase sampling and analytical methodologies.

The position requires a Ph.D. in chemistry, chemical engineering or environmental science from an accredited college or university. Other degrees will be considered assuming relevant experience. Prior experience in solvent degradation, gas phase sampling and analytical method development using a variety of instrumentation is highly desirable.

More Information


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.



Members of Utilities Services Tour UK CAER

clock August 5, 2014 18:00 by author Alice


The East Kentucky Power Cooperative DSM steering committee met recently on the UK CAER energy campus and afterwards took a tour around the CAER energy labs including stops in the renewables building including the solar and biofuels research groups. Additionally they reviewed carbon materials lab; minerals/environmental lab; greenhouse; and the power generation unit . The DSM members include members in the distribution co-ops that deal directly with electric consumers.


UK CAER's Research is Used in KY's First Megawatt-Scale Carbon Capture Pilot Unit

clock July 21, 2014 14:32 by author Alice

Gov. Steve Beshear (fifth from right) cut the ribbon to begin construction of Kentucky's first megawatt-scale carbon capture pilot unit at an operating power plant located at Kentucky Utilities Company’s E.W. Brown Generating Station, near Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Also pictured, (extreme left) Dr. Kunlei Liu, CAER Director of Research; (to right of Governor) UK President Eli Capilouto and (extreme right) Dr. Rodney Andrews, CAER Director.

A news conference and ribbon cutting on the grounds of the unit was held this morning with Gov. Steve Beshear, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters, LG&E and KU Energy Chairman, CEO and President Victor Staffieri, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, and other dignitaries and industrial partners in attendance. The $19.5 million project with the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research is made possible through ... rest of story from UKNOW.


UKNOW HIghlights CAER - China Carbon Capture Collaboration

clock July 15, 2014 13:06 by author Alice
According to a story on UKNOW: LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 15. 2014) — The University of Kentucky has entered into an agreement with a major Chinese petrochemical conglomerate to develop technologies to capture, utilize and store 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from a coal-fired power plant in Dongying, Shandong, China.

The agreement, between UK's Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) and the Sinopec Corporation's Shengli Oilfield Company and Petroleum Engineering Construction Corporation, is a project of the joint U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) as part of its Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage (CCUS) initiative. Preliminary work on the project began in 2012, and work is scheduled to continue through 2017.

More ...


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. 



Patrick Mansfield, UK CAER Student, Presents Poster at NCUR

clock May 6, 2014 15:05 by author Alice
A student with the CAER Power Generation research group recently participated in the 2014 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) that took place on the UK campus during April 2014. Patrick Mansfield, UK Chemical Engineering undergraduate, presented a poster dealing with carbon fibers reinforced polymer composite multiwall carbon nanotubes studded carbon fibers. Nearly 4,000 students and mentors across the US presented their research and creative endeavors.



CAER HS Student Places at Local Science Fair

clock April 9, 2014 11:02 by author Alice
Christine Brandewie, a high school senior from Dunbar, worked on her senior project with the UK CAER Power Generation research group and recently used that research in a science fair entry titled: Catalysts to Decrease the Cost of Carbon Capture.

 

She recently placed second in the Chemistry division at the District Level on February 8th. She moves onto the next level, Regionals, this spring.


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


Podcast of CAER Fuel Seminar Speaker - Max Ball

clock February 21, 2014 17:22 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 Carbon Capture and Storage by  Mr. Max Ball of SaskPower.  

- Podcast and PPT File

SaskPower's Boundary Dam Integrated CCS Demonstration will be the world's first full application of Post Combustion Carbon Capture to a coal fired power generating unit. An avalanche of learnings will come with start-up of this unit later in 2014. SaskPower 's Carbon Capture Test Facility, now under construction at Shand Power Station, will add another dimension to the operating experience beginning in 2015. Knowledge coming from these initiatives will pave the way for a second generation of clean coal projects.



New Job Annoucement from UK CAER Power Generation Research Group

clock December 17, 2013 15:39 by author Alice

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research seeks a Pilot-Scale CO2 Capture Process Operations Team Member. This position will include hands-on operation of a 0.1 MWth scale CO2 capture process located at UKy-CAER and will require lifting and climbing ladders. There may be opportunity for contribution to the preparation of scholarly reports, manuscripts, articles, and proposal submissions. For more information please visit the UK CAER website.



Congratulations to Darrell Taulbee - IBA Incoming President

clock November 18, 2013 13:36 by author Marybeth McAlister

Longtime CAER researcher, Darrell Taulbee, was recently named the incoming President to the Institute for Briquetting and Agglomeration at the 33rd biennial conference in San Francisco, CA. He has been involved in the organization for the past decade, vice president and a member of the  board of directors. He also won the Neal Rice Award for Best paper. The IBA is a group of business and technical people interested and involved in the research, development, and production of briquettes, pellets, and other densified products, and the equipment used to produce them.For more information on IBA, go to: http://agglomeration.org/