UK CAER Current News

The Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) is one of the University of Kentucky's multidisciplinary research centers. Its energy research provides a focal point for environmental, renewable and fossil fuels research in Kentucky.

UK CAER'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 ...


UK CAER's Jim Hower is Interviewed by WLEX18

clock July 15, 2014 10:38 by author Alice
Dr. Jim Hower, UK CAER Geologist/Scientist and Dr. Jen O'Keefe, Geologist/Scientist at Morehead State University were interviewed by WLEX 18 for Mystery Monday: Mystery Of Underground Coal Fires.

From WLEX: Scientists say there are at least 30 underground coal fires in Eastern Kentucky, mostly in old abandoned mines. One of these burns under Highway 80 in Perry County. It's known as the Ruth Mullins fire and scientists are concerned that most people don't know how dangerous these fires can be.

Watch the video.



KY Organic Electronic Materials Symposium is a Success!

clock July 11, 2014 16:01 by author Alice
The Kentucky Organic Electronic Materials Symposium - An Introduction to Materials and Applications was organized by Dr. John Anthony, long-time CAER faculty associate, and hosted at the UK CAER Spindletop facility, and was a definite hit among the symposium's 40+ attendees. The KY NSF-EPSCoR provided funding for the majority of the symposium costs and provided travel funds for attendees from EPSCoR states which helps to build future EPSCoR research collaborations.

Symposium Summary: Progress in the development of new functional organic materials has accelerated in recent years, leading to a host of design rules for a variety of applications that are not necessarily enumerated in current chemical literature. This Symposium is designed to introduce researchers from EPSCoR states to the latest in organic electronics materials design and characterization, as well as present the current state-of-the-art in the performance of polymeric, blended, and pure small-molecule semiconductors in applications such as photovoltaics, thin-film transistors, sensors and other applications. A corresponding poster session and ample discussion opportunities will help build links between EPSCoR researchers with complementary research interests.

More Symposium Information.


Editors of Nature Ask John Anthony to Highlight Progress in Organic Electronics

clock July 11, 2014 15:53 by author Alice
Nature, the prestigious international weekly journal of science, recently asked Dr. John Anthony, UK Professor with solar lab facilities located at the CAER, to "highlight" progress in organic electronics within a set of papers given at a recent Materials Research Society session. The article's title is "Organic electronics: Addressing challenges". A short blurb from the Nature website:

Although promising, the use of organic semiconductors has not yet revolutionized consumer electronics. Synthesis of high-performance materials, enhanced control of morphology and smart exploitation of unique photophysical phenomena are the way forward to overcome the technological hurdles of this field.

It is now available online.



The ASER Summary: Community Engagement at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant

clock July 11, 2014 15:43 by author Alice
The US Department of Energy (DOE) conducts environmental monitoring at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) and releases an Annual Site Environmental Report (ASER). Although available to the public, the ASER is developed for site managers and DOE Headquarters. This year, under the guidance of UK CAER’s Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and the Environment (KRCEE), Marshall County High School AP Environmental Science will summarize what they have learned about the PGDP ASER. The goal is to educate local students about the operations and cleanup activities at the PGDP and communicate the students’ new knowledge to the public.

Leading up to the PGDP tour, DOE Program Manager, Tracey Duncan, and KRCEE Principle Investigators, Steve Hampson and Dr. Richard Hallbrook gave lectures on the history and environmental challenges of the PGDP. On May 13th, members of KRCEE, Marshall County students and staff were given a DOE guided tour of the PGDP.

 

Afterwards, the group assembled at the Western Kentucky Wildlife Management Area (WKWMA) lodge to experience a presentation with live specimens by Dr. Steven Price, UK, Dept. of Forestry. The group then toured the WKWMA as Tim Kreher, Kentucky Wildlife Biologist, explained ecological considerations, use and management at the WKWMA.


UK CAER Scientists Collaborate with UK Engineering Capstone Senior Design Teams

clock July 11, 2014 15:00 by author Alice
The UK Center for Applied Energy Research, a non-degree granting UK energy research center, strives to provide and work with students via various experiential learning opportunities. For the past four years, the CAER's biofuels engineers have been working closely with the Mechanical Engineering's Capstone Senior Design project. The capstone project is a one-semester course within the UK College of Engineering college taken by students in their senior year. The students are divided into teams and the additional time allows for more comprehensive projects to be completed. This is where the CAER comes into the picture.

 

In an effort to drive down capital costs associated with algal-based carbon capture and utilization, the CAER "outsourced" design problems to the capstone student-based project teams so they could "dig a little deeper" to see what could be developed, with the end result to be working prototypes that could be incorporated into the Center's day-to-day biofuels research. In addition to campus work, the students worked about 10 hours per week at the Center to build their prototypes.

 

With input from the research staff at CAER, an electrical engineering (EE) team was tasked with developing a low cost control system while the mechanical design (ME) team was focused on reducing costs of the photobioreactor support frame.

 

Both student teams completed critical design reviews for their project, finalized their designs, and moved into the prototyping phase. The ME team met with a VERY aggressive cost reduction on the photobioreactor while the EE team was tasked with designing, building, and testing a control system capable of growing algae. "The end result is really cool", states Mike Wilson, CAER Biofuels Engineer, "because now the Center will be able to build and deliver a complete low-cost system to other research groups/companies".

 

Mike went on to say, "Put simply, we get professional engineering consulting for almost free, a working prototype of needed equipment, and the students get access to a modest budget (~$1000) for prototyping as well as a clearer picture of what goes on here at the Center. Getting to work with CAER researchers like Roger Perrone, Jack Groppo, Nick Rhea and myself gives them a unique experience that the other teams simply don’t get."

 

2014 EE team: George Villanueva, Cassie Cox, Chase Adams, Katelyn Yohe, Supreme Aryal

 

2014 ME team: Nathan Richardson, Tyler Craddock, Aaron Bottoms, David Trembula, Alison Dixon

 



STEM CAMP 2014 Rocks ... Bounces, Clanks, Gurgles ... at UK CAER

clock June 30, 2014 15:03 by author Alice
UK CAER hosted 144 eager, young, potential scientists - incoming 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders - at the Spindletop Energy campus on June 24 and 25, 2014. The students were participating in the See Blue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Camp being held at the University of Kentucky. The week-long day camp is designed to help students explore and integrate the STEM disciplines through authentic hands-on projects and real world applications.

These potentially future engineers, geologists and chemists spent the day at CAER involved in rotating between six hands-on experiments, demos and activities generally related to energy. The stops included (see below picture, left to right):

  • Jeanne Hartinger, CAER Staff: Students used engineering concepts to create balloons to compete for the highest bounce by using any of the various materials provided (rubber bands, tape, paper clips, washers) to make the balloon the correct shape, weight, diameter, or mass.
  • Jack Groppo, CAER Engineer: Students learned the basic concepts for water treatment (flocculation) by adding chemicals to suspensions of fine particles to cause rapid settling and produce clear water for recycling.
  • Mike Wilson, CAER Engineer: An outdoors "Energy Walk" combined physical activity with experiential learning by clarifying how much energy it takes to use various household electrical appliances in a typical home.
  • Robert Pace, CAER Scientist: A look at the energy dashboard of the CAER's renewable energy lab was part of the Newton's Cradle activity which utilizes a device that demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy via a series of swinging spheres.
  • Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, CAER Scientist: The fossil fuels and biofuels race taught kids about the conversion of different starting materials – such as biomass and petroleum – to fuel, while at the same time making them aware of the economic and environmental costs associated with these transformations.
  • Anne Oberlink, CAER Scientist: A visit to the CAER minerals laboratory provided children a hands-on experience utilizing cement, and learning about coal ash, an energy-related by-product, to create a personalized paving stone.


John Anthony's Organic Letters Paper is an ACS Editors' Choice Selection

clock June 30, 2014 14:18 by author Alice
UK Professor John Anthony, a longtime CAER collaborator whose labs are located at the Center, has been selected to be featured in ACS Editors' Choice, in addition to be published in Organic Letters journal. The American Chemical Society's ACS Editors' Choice is a new initiative wherein, based on recommendations from Editors, one article from across the portfolio is selected each day of the year and upon publication is made immediately available as open access sponsored by ACS Publications. ACS Editors' Choice articles aim to exemplify the Society's commitment to improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry.

Dr. Anthony's manuscript is titled, "Synthesis and Optical Properties of Dioxolane-Functionalized Hexacenes and Heptacenes". Less than 1% of articles published in an ACS journal are selected for the ACS Editor's Choice.


UK CAER's Fisk Attends Ky Green Building Summit

clock June 30, 2014 13:40 by author Alice
Courtney Fisk, Assistant Director for UK CAER's Facilities and Operations recently attended the first Kentucky Green Building Leadership Summit, Market Transformation for our Built Environment. Rick Fedriozzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the USGBC was the keynote speaker. The summit highlighted Kentucky businesses that are leaders in green building, and the important environmental, economic and social impact they have at a global, state and local level.

Courtney was the project engineer of the UK CAER's 43,000 square foot high-performance renewable energy laboratory that open in mid-2012. The laboratory building design target was a 50 percent reduction in energy usage compared to similar facilities. The final percentage is 54 percent. It is targeted to be LEED gold certified.


WUKY Radio Does Story about Coal Fires which includes UK CAER Jim Hower and Greg Copley

clock June 30, 2014 11:50 by author Alice
WUKY NPR @91.3 recently broadcasted a story about "WHAT LIES BENEATH: Researchers Turning Attention to Underground Coal Fires".

 

The story discusses how coal fires can start and how researchers at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research are gathering information on such fires in Kentucky. Some of the coal fires in the US have been burning for decades and they're tough to put out.

 

Jim Hower has been investigating these fires since 2007 and says that conditions like amount of smoke and ground temperatures change from one visit to the next. A number of things can start the fires, from forest and grassland fires igniting exposed coal beds, to arson, … even spontaneous ignition under some conditions. According to Hower, thousands of uncontrolled coal fires are burning beneath the surface around the world.

 

Go to the WUKY website to listen to this coal fires story.


Online Text book Written by CAER's Graham, Jacobs and Davis

clock June 30, 2014 11:10 by author Alice
The online book ‘Practical Electron Microscopy and Database,’ a reference for TEM and SEM operators, engineers, technicians, managers, researchers and students uses TEM/EELS data and figures generated and published by Graham, Jacobs and Davis. For more information, check out the online book page.



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.

 



Research by Fulbright Scholar Completed while at UK CAER Wins Major Award

clock June 4, 2014 13:46 by author Alice
Thani Jermwongratanachai, previously a graduate student at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, has won the best oral presentation award at the RGJ - Ph.D. Congress XIV held at the Jomtien Palm Beach Hotel and Resort in Pattaya, Thailand. Ph.D students present at the RGJ conference at the end of their educational program. The title of Thani's talk was “A Comparison between Pt and Ag as Metal Promoters for Co/Al2O3 Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis Catalyst”.

 

Thani Jermwongratanachai, previously a graduate student at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, has won the best oral presentation award at the RGJ - Ph.D. Congress XIV held at the Jomtien Palm Beach Hotel and Resort in Pattaya, Thailand. Ph.D students present at the RGJ conference at the end of their educational program. The title of Thani's talk was “A Comparison between Pt and Ag as Metal Promoters for Co/Al2O3 Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis Catalyst”.

 

 

Thani was part of the Royal Golden Jubilee (RGJ) program of Thailand project which aims to produce 5,000 Ph.D. graduates in as few as 15 years when it was realized in the last two decades that one of the serious causes for the social and economic weakness of Thailand was the severe shortage of highly qualified human resources especially in the field of science and technology. Because of its merit, the project was also proclaimed one of the programs to commemorate H.M. the King's Golden Jubilee year of reign.

 

The work that was presented was completed at CAER during the summer of 2013. His advisers were Boonyarach Kitiyanan (Chulalongkorn University), Gary Jacobs (UK-CAER), and Burtron H. Davis (UK-CAER). Top, as he was affectionately known at CAER, came to the Center as a Fulbright Scholar after receiving a grant in 2012. The grant application was written by his three advisors, with Dr. Jacobs and Prof. Davis serving as his hosts in the USA. During his stay, he made presentations at national and international meetings and was a co-author on 6 refereed publications.

 

His primary research explored the use of silver as a promoter in cobalt Fischer-Tropsch synthesis catalysts to not only possibly replace expensive precious metal promoters (e.g., platinum), but to also improve the product selectivity away from undesirable light gas products. Much of his work involved the use of synchrotron radiation, and Top had the opportunity to accompany Dr. Jacobs on visits to the synchrotron at Brookhaven National Laboratory, as well as to collaborate with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory.

 

In May of 2014, Dr. Jacobs received funding from the Royal Golden Jubilee program to visit Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and serve on Top’s graduate committee. On May 16th, Top successfully defended his thesis, entitled “Utilization of methane: methylation of benzene with methane, and gas-to-liquids (GTL) via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.” The same day, Dr. Jacobs gave a one hour seminar entitled “Applications of synchrotron methods in the characterization of catalysts for the production of alternative fuels.”

 



DEDI New Personnel Visit UK CAER

clock June 4, 2014 13:37 by author Alice
New staffers at DEDI (Department for Energy Development and Independence, part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky's Energy and Environment Cabinet) toured various UK CAER science areas to better understand the various types of research activities that occur at the energy center. In addition to an introduction by Dr. Rodney Andrews, CAER Director, the renewables lab included the building's green characteristics as well as solar, elecrochemical power sources and biofuels research areas. Also included on the tour was the petrology lab, clean fuels and chemicals lab, power generation lab demo, briquetting, algae greenhouse, carbon materials and minerals research labs.


KAM Tours UK CAER Labs

clock June 4, 2014 13:32 by author Alice

 

Individuals from the Kentucky Manufacturing Association toured CAER labs recently to help develop potential partnerships between Kentucky's manufacturing industry and UK CAER.


UK Alum Tours UK CAER

clock June 4, 2014 13:25 by author Alice
Milton Huffaker, a 1957 UK Physics alumni toured UK CAER during a visit to the University of Kentucky campus to view and discuss various entrepreneur projects, which is the focus of his company, Coherent Investments. Mr. Huffaker toured various research areas at CAER including carbon materials, F-T, minerals, biofuels, batteries and algae.


UK CAER's Uschi Graham Joins NAM Organizing Committee

clock June 4, 2014 11:32 by author Alice

Dr. Uschi Graham, UK CAER Research Scientist, has been asked to join the organizing committee of the 24th North American Catalysis Society.  The 24th NAM conference will be held in Pittsburg, PA from June 14-19, 2015 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. 



Burt Davis Receives 2014 NACS Award for Distinguished Work

clock June 4, 2014 11:01 by author Alice

Dr. Burtron Davis, UK CAER Clean Fuels and Chemicals Associate Director, is the has received the 2014 NACS Award for Distinguished Service in Advancement of Catalysis.

The following is taken from the NACS Press Release (nacatsoc.org/category/news/):  The Award is pre­sented every two years to rec­og­nize an indi­vid­ual who has advanced cat­alytic chem­istry or engi­neer­ing through both sig­nif­i­cant ser­vice to the catal­y­sis com­mu­nity and out­stand­ing tech­ni­cal accom­plish­ments. This award includes an hon­o­rar­ium ($5,000) and a plaque. It is awarded by the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety and spon­sored by Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing and Clari­ant and will be pre­sented dur­ing the 2015 NAM in Pittsburgh 

Dr. Davis is being rec­og­nized in par­tic­u­lar for his con­tri­bu­tion to indus­trial research prob­lems with a detailed under­stand­ing of cat­alytic trans­for­ma­tions. His work in iso­topic label­ing stud­ies has helped obtain in depth knowl­edge of reac­tion path­ways of indus­tri­ally rel­e­vant processes and prob­ing cat­alytic mech­a­nisms. Specif­i­cally, Dr. Davis has focused on Fischer-Tropsch reac­tion mech­a­nisms and cat­alytic trans­for­ma­tions using cobalt, iron and ruthenium-based cat­a­lysts research­ing fun­da­men­tal ques­tions with indus­try rel­e­vance. Dur­ing his five decade career, Dr. Davis has co-authored more than 500 peer reviewed pub­li­ca­tions and orga­nized numer­ous sym­posia in var­i­ous areas of catalysis that honored renowned petroleum chemists including Paul H. Emmett, W. Keith Hall, Robert Eischens and John Sinfelt among many others. 

In ser­vice to the catal­y­sis com­mu­nity, Dr. Davis has served the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety in var­i­ous capac­i­ties includ­ing orga­niz­ing the 12th NAM in Lex­ing­ton and serv­ing as the Hon­orary Chair of the 23rd NAM in Louisville. For the past three decades Dr. Davis has func­tioned as a his­to­rian of the NACS and the catal­y­sis com­mu­nity. His fore­sight, ded­i­ca­tion and efforts to archive and record the his­tory of the soci­ety and cat­alytic sci­ence has led to an unprece­dented NACS hosted col­lec­tion of more than 1300 videos of con­fer­ence pre­sen­ta­tions and one on one inter­views.  He has captured the voices, images and messages of many of the greats in catalysis including Professors Paul Emmett, Ed Teller, Geoff Wilkinson, Robert Burwell, Daniel Eley, Michel Boudart, Mark Dry, and Hermann Pines just to name but a few.  This col­lec­tion stands as a tes­ta­ment to the ded­i­ca­tion of Burt Davis to the preser­va­tion of the his­tory of catal­y­sis for gen­er­a­tions to come.



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.