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.

Mark Crocker Quoted in ACS

clock April 27, 2016 14:13 by author Dave Melanson

UK CAER's Mark Crocker was quoted in a recent American Chemical Society (ACS) Central Science article entitled, "As the Volkswagen scandal showed, building fuel-efficient, low-emitting vehicles is no easy task." You can read the entire article here.



UK CAER Student Presents at NSBE Annual Convention

clock April 18, 2016 16:29 by author Alice
Courtney McKelphin, and undergraduate chemical engineering major at the University of Kentucky, working at the Center for Applied Energy Research in the Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis lab, presented her research at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Annual Convention in Boston, MA on March 25, 2016.

Courtney currently serves as UK's Chapter Vice President of NSBE and has been a member for two years. Her presentation focused on establishing key kinetic parameters of the catalytic decarboxylation/decarbonylation of triglycerides to fuels.



UK CAER, Sayre Co-Host Energy Fair

clock April 13, 2016 15:50 by author Alice
Exploding balloons. A solar car. A virtual reality sandbox. Sounds like a day at the museum, doesn’t it?

The reality: It was the annual University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) Energy Fair on Monday, April 11. Sayre School hosted the event at its C.V. Whitney Gymnasium, which featured more than 330 students from Cassidy, Russell Cave, Sayre and Yates Elementary Schools participating.

Held each year, the UK CAER Energy Fair provides elementary school students in Fayette County a hands-on, interactive introduction to science, engineering and research. Students learn about various energy-related topics including electricity, mining, biofuels, motors, solar panels, and electromagnets. In addition, students had the opportunity to learn about creating a sustainable energy future for the Commonwealth.

In addition to CAER, presenters included the UK Chapter of the Society of Mining Engineers, Bluegrass GreenSource, UK’s Solar Decathlon team, Sayre Middle School Green Team, and the Kentucky Division of Air Quality, among others.



Environmental Class Tour of UK CAER

clock April 8, 2016 08:51 by author Alice

An environmental lab class under the direction of Dr. David Fraley of Georgetown College toured the University of Kentucky Lab 2, Carbon Spinline and Algae Greenhouse.



UK CAER Takes Safety Seriously

clock April 7, 2016 09:24 by author Alice

A group of University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research scientists, engineers and support staff participated in a First Aid, CPR and AED training class. Ruthann Chaplin, an instructor with the National Safety Council, took the participants through many situations and scenarios, teaching ways to identify and assist in fostering a positive outcome. The class learned about various first responder topics and how to relate them to day to day situations either happened upon, simple accidents, or those events that are life threatening.

According to organizer and instructor Ruthann Chaplin, UK CAER Safety Officer “Having the knowledge and knowing how to react in situations, can mean the difference between life and death for someone in need”.



Video Showcases UK CAER STEM Pipeline Efforts

clock April 4, 2016 15:58 by author Dave Melanson

Much has been reported about the lack of students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) pipeline across Kentucky and the nation.

Changing those statistics has been an on-going national challenge – a challenge in which UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) has taken a leadership role.

The following video showcases how the UK CAER 101 program is helping to inspire the next generation of scientists at Yates, Cassidy and Russell Cave Elementary Schools here in Fayette County.

Helping to inspire those elementary students are current UK student participants in UK’s Broadening Participation in Engineering program, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. UK’s BPE program is a collaboration between UK CAER and UK’s College of Engineering and seeks to inspire traditionally under-represented students to pursue leadership opportunities in STEM fields.

“Mentoring opportunities are available to incoming African American, Hispanic or Native American engineering students at both the undergraduate and graduate level,” said Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, a research scientist at UK CAER, and Director of the BPE Mentoring program. “The BPE program has really allowed UK to engage in a unique mentoring opportunity for UK scientists. It also has allowed our students an opportunity to help build a pipeline of STEM learners in our community.”

UK Now Story.



UK CAER High School Students Wins Prestigious Army Award at Ky State Science Fair

clock April 1, 2016 13:26 by author Alice
Ashley Liu, a student from the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, won the prestigious Army Award at the Kentucky State Science Fair, March 2016. The research project was based upon her studies on water treatment technology completed at the Center for Applied Energy Research's Power Generation research group. The center is located at the University of Kentucky.



Ashley Liu presented a poster at the Kentucky State Science Fair 2016 at the Eastern Kentucky University.


UK CAER's Tekecrete Featured at First Defense Expo

clock April 1, 2016 12:55 by author Alice

A new technology developed at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research and Minova's North American headquarters in Georgetown, Kentucky was exhibited at the FDX 2016 First Defense Expo in Louisville in mid-March 2016. CAER and Minova scientists reached out to the first responder community by discussing Tekcrete Fast. This product/process allows a fiber-reinforced, high-strength, ultra-rapid setting concrete to be applied for almost immediate stabilization of damaged buildings and other damaged concrete infrastructure. The process can be sent into the location immediately and be used at a safe distance.

The Tekcrete Fast technology used the construction technique called shotcrete and is applied at high velocity that also facilitates adherence to various construction surfaces. A slightly different formulation, Tekcrete Fast M, is used in underground applications to almost instantly stabilize dangerous mining conditions, contributing to mine safety.

The research and joint patent leading to the Minova license came about when UK CAER partnered with Minova on a project for the National Institute of Hometown Security (NIHS), located in Somerset, Kentucky.



Ohio Valley Organic Petrographers Meeting

clock April 1, 2016 11:20 by author Alice


Organic petrographers from the Ohio Valley area representing various universities met on March 31, 2016 at the Kentucky Geological Survey in Henderson, Kentucky.

Dr. Jim Hower of the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (center, back row) participated in the meeting to discuss various organic petrology of coals and carbonaceous shales topics.


UK CAER Reaches Out to Math "Athletes"

clock April 1, 2016 10:52 by author Alice

 

Biofuels is the name of the game! Three University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research staffers - Scientist, Dr. Jack Groppo; Engineer, Ms. Shiela Medina; and Ms. Alice Marksberry - participated in the UK hosted 2016 MathCounts competition. On a Friday night in March, nearly 200 Mathcounts winners from middle schools in counties throughout the Commonwealth participated in fun science experiments with UK faculty, staff and students.

 

The UK CAER hosted an educational stop that featured the Biofuels Game - a board game created by CAER scientist Dr. Eduardo Santillian-Jimenez. The game reflects decisions made by the students that must compare and contrast the pathway of creating a gasoline/diesel product from either crude petroleum or biomass. Students must consider how to create the end product via economical and environmentally sound decision-making processes.

 

Mathcounts is a national enrichment, coaching and competition program that promotes middle school math achievement through grassroots involvement.


Center Collaborates with UK Mining Engineering on Rare Earth Elements Research

clock March 15, 2016 08:56 by author David Melanson

University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research scientists Jack Groppo and Jim Hower are collaborating with Rick Honaker, professor and chair of the UK Department of Mining Engineering, to develop a mobile pilot-plant facility for the recovery of rare earth elements from coal.

The research team received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory. The team includes collaborators at Virginia Tech and West Virginia University and will develop and test a mobile processing facility that can efficiently recover the rare earth elements present in coal and coal byproducts in an environmentally friendly manner.

"Previous research conducted by UK scientists and others have found that the critical materials needed for renewable energy technologies, such as cell phones and other electronics, are found in coal and coal byproducts at concentrations that may be economical to recover," Dr. Honaker said.

Rare earth elements, or REEs, are a series of chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. Due to their unique chemical properties, REEs have become essential components of many technologies spanning a range of applications including electronics, computer and communication systems, transportation, health care and national defense. The demand, cost and availability of REEs has grown significantly over recent years stimulating an emphasis on economically feasible approaches for REE recovery.

The U.S. has 10.9 million tons of rare earth resources in coal deposits located in just five western and four eastern states, including Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey Coal Quality Database.

"If advanced separation technologies become available, the resource base will increase substantially," Dr. Honaker said.

With those technologies, the coal industry could potentially produce approximately 40,000 tons of REEs annually, which is more than twice the amount consumed in the U.S.

As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-05) supported funding for REE recovery projects in the federal budget for fiscal year 2016.

“Our coal-producing states are working diligently to recover from the devastating loss of coal mining jobs in today’s economy. In fact, Kentucky alone has suffered the loss of nearly 11,000 coal mining jobs since 2009. Experimental projects, like UK’s mobile REE recovery plant, could save and create new coal-related jobs and opportunities in eastern Kentucky,” said Congressman Rogers. “I applaud Professor Honaker and the vision of UK’s leaders to find new applications for coal and coal byproducts for the development of everyday technologies, such as smart phones, computers and rechargeable batteries. This effort to find more uses for our country’s most plentiful resource could put many people back to work in the coalfields.”

This project is one of only 10 projects awarded and is the only one that is focused on physical concentration methods as a means for recovering REE directly from the coal sources rather than from a coal combustion byproduct. UK CAER received funding on three of 10 NETL projects.



Catalyst Group Publishes Book

clock March 11, 2016 12:59 by author David Melanson

World-renowned UK Center for Applied Energy Research Fischer-Tropsch catalysis research – led by CAER’s Burt Davis – has been published in a new book entitled “Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis, Catalysts, and Catalysis: Advances and Applications.” The book is now available for sale by CRC Press.

The book is a collection of proceedings and some invited papers from the International Symposium on Fischer-Tropsch Chemistry and Catalysis, which was held as part of the 248th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting & Exposition. That meeting was held in August 2014 in San Francisco.

Dr. Davis, an international leader in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, and direct coal liquefaction at CAER, served as one of the book’s editors, along with colleague Mario L. Occelli.

In addition to Dr. Davis’ contributions to this book, many other staff members and former staff of the Center’s Catalysts Laboratory were published including: Muthu Kumaran Gnanamani, Uschi M. Graham, Shelley D. Hopps, Gary Jacobs, Wenping Ma, Patricia M. Patterson, Venkat Ramana Rao Pendyala, Wilson D. Shafer, Dennis E. Sparks, and Gerald A. Thomas.  Moreover, the book highlights the work of many UK CAER students and former students, including Adam C. Crawford, Victor Gloriot, Nicolas A. Hughes, Michela Martinelli, Maria A. Morales, Chase P. Moran, Jean-Samuel Poirier, Damarcus D. Smiley, and Sarah S. Suggs.

Collaborations with UK CAER included Gabriela Alvez (Chevron-Phillips Chemical Co. LP), Dragomir B. Bukur (Texas A&M University at Qatar), Hussein H. Hamdeh (Wichita State University Department of Physics), Xianghong Hao (Chevron-Phillips Chemical Co. LP), Yongfeng Hu (Canadian Light Source, Inc.), Syed Khalid (National Synchrotron Light Source, Brookhaven National Laboratory), Luca Lietti (Polytechnic University of Milan), Aimee Maclennan (Canadian Light Source, Inc.), Jack Selegue (University of Kentucky Department of Chemistry), Ryan Snell (Chevron-Phillips Chemical Co. LP), Branislav Todic (Texas A&M University at Qatar), and Carlo G. Visconti (Polytechnic University of Milan).

The book can be purchased at the following website: https://www.crcpress.com/Fischer-Tropsch-Synthesis-Catalysts-and-Catalysis-Advances-and-Applications/Davis-Occelli/9781466555297.



Graffin Lecturer Discusses "This Ubiqutuos Carbon" at a UK CAER Seminar

clock March 4, 2016 09:58 by author Alice
This ubiqutuos carbon... was an interesting topic presented by Dr. Cristian Contescu, Senior Research Staff, Materials Science and Technology Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, at a recent University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research Seminar held on March 2, 2016.



After Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age, and after the Silicon Age of the informational revolution, the technologies of 21st century are marked by the ubiqutuous presence of various forms of carbon allotropes. For long time, diamond and graphite were the only known carbon allotropes, but that has changed with the serendipous discovery of fullerences, carbon nanotubes, and graphene. Every ten or fifteen years scientists unveil new forms of carbons with new and perplexing properties, while computations suggest that the carbon’s family still has members unknown to us today. At a dramatically accelerated pace, new carbon allotrope forms find their place at the leading edge of scientific and technological innovations. At the same time traditional forms of carbon are being used in new and exciting applications that make our life safer, healthier, and more enjoyable. The 21st century may soon be recognized as the Age of Carbon forms.

This educational talk emphasized the role that carbon, the fourth most abundant element in the Galaxy and the basis of life on Earth, was the engine of most important technological developments throughout the history of civilization. The talk will emphasize carbon’s strong ability, as an element, to generate a variety of allotropic forms and to enter in a multitude of combinations with itself and with many other chemical elements. These properties have placed carbon at the core of numerous inventions that define out civilization, while emerging new technologies open a rich path for value-added products in today’s market. The potential of new (and traditional) carbon allotropes for development of new applications in nanotechnologies and nanocomposites, energy storage and conversion, gas separation, storage and sequestration, health management and drug delivery, defense and national security, aeronautics and astronautics, basic sciences and life sciences is still not fully explored and demands more basic and applied research. Today’s carbon science and technology offers a broad range of opportunities for the young generation of students, engineers and scientists.


UK College of Design Students Tour CAER's Energy Efficient Lab Building

clock March 3, 2016 13:28 by author Alice
UK College of Design Students in the Interior Design area toured the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's laboratory 2 - Renewable Energy Lab on March 2, 2016. The students toured the solar and battery areas and heard details about the building's energy efficiency features from Courtney Fisk, UK CAER Assistant Director for Facilities and Operations. Courtney was the engineer that oversaw the construction of lab 2. Eduardo Santillan-Jimenz, UK CAER Biofuels Scientist, presented information/toured the Biofuels labs housed within the building. The CoD students are working on a Sustainability grant jointly received by UK CAER, Colleges of Design and Education to develop a biofuels video game from the board game version created by Dr. Santillian-Jimenz.


UK CAER Ingenuity Featured at E-Day

clock March 1, 2016 09:18 by author David Melanson

UK CAER’s education and outreach missions were on full display on Saturday, February 27 as part of UK’s Engineers Day, or as it is commonly-referred, E-Day. E-Day, a celebration of everything engineering has to offer, is held each year on UK’s engineering complex.


E-Day is an opportunity for school-aged children – from elementary all the way through high school – to learn more about the exciting things engineers and computer scientists do. It also serves as a way to introduce students to experiential activities, including high school and undergraduate research opportunities.


Representing the Center at E-Day this year were Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez and Tristana Duvallet, who were busying answering questions from interested students and parents about what a career in science would look like.

 



CAER Provides Chemistry Demonstrations at SCAPA

clock February 29, 2016 09:25 by author Alice

UK CAER’s Wilson Shafer and Gary Jacobs gave chemistry demonstrations to seventh grade students at Fayette County’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) of the Bluegrass. The host for the event was Dr. Ashlie Arkwright from Fayette County Schools. Wilson and Gary performed a number of interesting chemical reactions that are used in our everyday lives and showed important links between chemistry and the fine arts. These included combustion and acid-base neutralization (using invisible inks), redox (including plating reactions and showing changes in pigment with oxidation state), and polymerization reactions (used, for example, in making classical guitar strings).



UK CAER Undergraduate Researcher Presents Research at Kentucky State Capitol

clock February 25, 2016 14:48 by author David Melanson

Courtney McKelphin, an undergraduate researcher at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, was one of 29 UK undergraduate researchers selected to showcase their research to the Kentucky state legislature on Thursday, February 25. Read the full story.



UK CAER Algal Research Hitting the Ground in China

clock February 15, 2016 12:05 by author David Melanson

Algae research at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) is going global.

The Algae and Biofuels Laboratory at UK CAER is partnering with Lianhenghui Investment Company to construct a 5-acre algae production facility in Zhengzhou, China. The facility will feature the Center’s novel photobioreactor technology for growing algae. The algae will be used for the production of nutraceuticals, bioplastics and fuels. The company is also constructing a second, smaller facility in Zhengzhou (2.5 acres), which will employ the same technology to grow algae for the production of nutraceuticals.

Microalgae have attracted considerable interest in recent years as a high-yield renewable feedstock for the production of fuels and chemicals. In addition, algae have been proposed as a means to capture and utilize power plant emissions, since photosynthetic algae can use the CO2 in flue gas as a carbon source.

UK CAER’s Algae and Biofuels group, led by Dr. Mark Crocker, is a worldwide leader in this research. The group has extensive expertise in this area, specializing in photobioreactor design, construction and operation; photobioreactor integration with power plants; and algae cultivation, harvesting and dewatering.

“This is an exciting development for our lab and the next phase of our research,” said Dr. Crocker. “Getting to see our innovations go from the lab to practice at Duke Energy’s East Bend Station in Boone County, Kentucky and now on to an international market is gratifying. We look forward to learning more from our partners at Lianhenghui Investment Company.”

The initial funding for the photobioreactor development was provided by the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence, as part of a project to investigate the potential of algae for the capturing and recycling of power plant CO2 emissions.  After years of research, the lab partnered with Duke Energy’s East Bend Station to install a photobioreactor at that site in late 2012.

“This is an exciting achievement for Mark Crocker and the entire Biofuels group here at CAER,” said Rodney Andrews, Director of UK CAER. “They have been persistent in their efforts to improve the technology, constantly refining their process and improving our understanding of how the biology and engineering systems interact. We look forward to seeing the results of this partnership with Lianhenghui."

In June 2014, the UK CAER licensed its photobioreactor technology to Lianhenghui. Together, UK and Lianhenghui have patented the first and second generation photobioreactor technology in China, and they are in the process of patenting the second generation reactor technology in the United States.

Biofuels – fuels derived from biomass – are promising alternatives to fossil fuels since they are renewable and carbon neutral (the CO2 generated during biofuel use is consumed by plants through photosynthesis, closing the carbon cycle). CAER has considerable experience on the catalytic conversion of different forms of biomass to fuels and chemicals.

For the full story and photos...



UK CAER Hosts Very Successful Ponded Ash Workshop in Tampa, Florida

clock February 12, 2016 16:38 by author Alice
Engineers, consultants, utility representatives and other scientists in the coal ash industry gathered in Tampa, Florida on February 3 and 4th to attend the workshop on “Current Issues in Ponded CCP’s." The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) and the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) co-hosted the 1 1/2 day event that was held in conjunction with ACAA’s annual meeting. Additionally, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) was a workshop sponsor and co-organizer.

Expert speakers from the CAER and industry gave technical presentations to a crowd of 192 attendees. Those presentations included:

  • Nature of Ponds, Sediments, Structure of Ponds - by Dr. Robert Jewell, UK CAER
  • The Recovery and Beneficiation of Ponded Fly Ash - by Dr. Tom Robl, UK CAER
  • Slope Stability Considerations under the CCR Rule - by Mr. John Seymour - Geosyntec
  • Progress Report on Seismic Shear Wall Stabilization of Perimeter Dikes and Loose Sand Foundation by Deep Mixing Method (DMM) - Experiences from Ongoing Construction at TVA's Colbert Ash Pond 4 - by Bill Walton, GEI
  • The New Regulatory Regime - The New Rules Summary - by Mr. John Ward, John Ward, Inc
  • Framework for Evaluating the Relative Impacts of Surface Impoundment Closure Options - by Ms. Ari Lewis, Gradient
  • Groundwater Monitoring and Statistical Analysis Under the CCR Rule - by Mr. Bruce Hensel, EPRI
  • Corrective Action at CCP Ponds - by Ken Ladwig, EPRI
  • In-Situ Stabilization/Solidification of Coal Ash Residuals - by Adam Chwalibog, Arcadis U.S., Inc.
  • North Carolina's Unprecedented Scope, Schedule, and Scrutiny: Insights for the Industry - by Dr. John Daniels, UNCC
  • Pond Closures: How to Avoid "Breaking the Bank" - by Mr. Mark Rokoff, AECOM




The UK CAER’s Environmental and Coal Technologies Group investigates all aspects of coal combustion by-product utilization (flyash). As such, it generates information for the transfer of new ideas to benefit the innovative utilization, handling, storage and disposal of CCBs.

The American Coal Ash Association, established in 1968, is a nonprofit trade association devoted to recycling the materials created when we burn coal to generate electricity. Our members comprise the world's foremost experts on coal ash (fly ash and bottom ash), and boiler slag, flue gas desulfurization gypsum (FGD or "synthetic" gypsum), and other flue gas materials captured by emissions controls.


UK CAER Scientists Publish in CCGP Journal

clock February 12, 2016 13:30 by author Alice
The newest article published in the Coal Combustion and Gasification Products journal is Coal Ash By-Product from Shanxi Province, China, for the Production of Portland-Calcium Sulfoaluminate, written by authors Tristana Y. Duvallet, Thomas L. Robl, and Kevin R. Henke (from UK CAER) as well as Yongmin Zhou, David Harris.

Web Link - Free article download

ABSTRACT: Twenty bulk samples were collected from ponded coal combustion ash in Shanxi Province, China, as part of an investigation of their beneficiation potential. The samples were shipped to the University of Kentucky, where they were chemically analyzed. The samples were highly consistent in chemistry, falling within the ASTM C-618 class F compositional range. The particle size of the ponded ash was relatively coarse, with only, 7% by weight on average, falling below 200 mesh (75mm) particle size. The bulk of the material (80%) was within 50 by 200 mesh (equivalent to 300 by 75mm). X-ray diffraction investigation combined with microscopy indicated that the agglomeration was probably due to the presence of small amounts (i.e.,,3.5%) of gypsum. The utilization potential of the ash was assessed in light of its characteristics and location. The presence of sulfate and relatively high alumina concentration, which averaged, 37%, suggested that it may serve as an important ingredient in the fabrication of a Portland–calcium sulfoaluminate (CSA) hybrid cement. Portland-CSA hybrid clinkers were successfully produced from this ponded ash when mixed with hydrated lime, gypsum, fluorite, and bauxite. The raw mixture was fired at 1250u C for 60 minutes twice (sample D) and consisted of approximately 40% alite (C3S), 21% belite (C2S), 3% ferrite (brownmillerite or C4AF), 32% CSA (ye’elimite, Klein’s compound, or C4A3SO3), and no free lime by weight.

2016 The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research and the American Coal Ash Association. All rights reserved.

Coal Combustion and Gasification Products is a unique peer-reviewed journal designed specifically to communicate coal ash research and emerging new technologies. CCGP is a joint venture between the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) and the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA). The organizations' primary goal is to bring together research that currently is published in disparate sources.

CCGP is an international on-line journal encompassing the science and technology of the production, sustainable utilization, and environmentally-sound handling of the byproducts of coal combustion and gasification. This includes fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, gasification residue, and byproducts from coal-fuel blends, flue-gas desulfurization products, and related materials.