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 Seed Grant Program is a Success

clock January 24, 2014 10:52 by author Alice
UK CAER staff gathered over coffee to review posters given by four young scientists that received new "seed" grant funding during 2013, the initial year that CAER began an internal seed grant program. This program 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.

 



CAER Scientists Judge Local School Science Fair

clock January 24, 2014 10:11 by author Alice
The Sixth Annual Liberty Elementary Science Fair was held on Thursday, January 16th, 2014 in Lexington, Kentucky. Several UK CAER scientists and engineers helped to judge the children's science experiments. This gives the students a real-world audience and adds a touch of interest to their projects.

 



Recent Certified Safety and Health Specialist Graduate

clock January 24, 2014 09:05 by author Alice
Congratulations to Ruthann Chaplin for her recent completion of EKU's Certified Safety and Health Specialist Certificate Program. Ruthann finished the certification program with 152 hours after completing OSHA 501, Trainer Course for General Industry, on December 6, 2013. More...


UK College of Design Tours the UK CAER Energy Center

clock January 13, 2014 17:12 by author Alice
Several of the University of Kentucky College of Design faculty members toured the UK CAER energy complex on January 10, 2014. The group toured the biofuels, electrochemical, minerals, carbon materials labs and the algae greenhouse.

 



EEC has Issued an Economic Challenges Facing Ky Electricity Generation Report

clock January 13, 2014 16:46 by author Alice

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet has published a paper - Economic Challenges Facing Kentucky's Electricity Generation Under Greenhouse Gas Constraints. This paper presents the results of an electricity generation dispatch model that was added to EEC's existing energy forecasting tools. The study began prior to President Obama's June 2013 announcement of his Climate Action Plan.

This paper reinforces the position that Kentucky's manufacturing economy is particularly vulnerable to energy sector dynamics. The paper urged the EPA to consider for Kentucky and other manufacturing states the substantial impacts of rigid standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. You may read/down the article from this URL: https://stat.as.uky.edu/sites/default/files/EEC_Model_Report.pdf.



Great Graphic Showing Forecasting of Natural Gas Prices

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

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



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.



Visiting Scientist from China to Spend Year at CAER

clock December 6, 2013 11:08 by author Marybeth McAlister

 Please welcome Shuli Bai to Mark Crocker’s group. He is a visiting scientist in environmental engineering from Taizhou College in China, who received his Ph.D. from the Chinese Academy of Science.



Congratulations to Liz Ware for Receiving Ph.D.

clock December 5, 2013 13:20 by author Marybeth McAlister

Liz Ware passed her doctoral defense on November 18th. Her dissertation is titled "Application of Pyrolysis-GC/MS to the Study of Biomass and Biomass Constituents." Her advisor is CAER Associate Director, Mark Crocker and co-advisor is Dr. John Selegue, UK Dept. of Chemistry. Liz began working at the CAER in Spring of 2009 and officially joined the Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis group as a graduate student in Jan. 2010. She has been offered a post-doctoral position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and will be moving to the Denver Area soon to start her new job, where she will be working on biomass cell wall analysis.



UK Chemistry Professor John Anthony Hosts Meeting

clock November 22, 2013 13:44 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

CAER held the annual program review for the Office of Naval Research, Basic Research Challenge: Carbon Molecular Electronics project.  John Anthony, a longtime CAER collaborator whose labs are located at the Center, hosted and presented. The theme was the development of routes to well-defined and tunable graphene nanoriibbons for high-speed computing applications.  This basic research challenge offers no specific application, but a goal of determining if these ribbons can be made, and if so, what their properties are. 

Other speakers included Mike Crommie, Alex Zettl, Jeff Bokor and Felix Fischer (all faculty at U. C. Berkeley), Vincent Meunier from RPI, Roman Fasel from EMPA in Zürich, Hermann Sachdev from the Max Planck Instutute in Mainz, Selvam Subramaniyan (representing Prof. Sam Jenekhe) and Francois Baynex from U. Washington, Alon Gorodetsky from U.C. Irvine, Paul Sheehan from Naval Research Laboratories, and Chagaan Baatar and Paul Armistead from the Office of Naval Research. 



Algae for Carbon Dioxide Capture at Power Plants used by Duke Energy

clock November 19, 2013 11:09 by author Marybeth McAlister

Researchers from the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) are demonstrating a system that uses algae to absorb carbon dioxide emissions at Duke Energy's East Bend power station in Northern Kentucky. Go to: http://uknow.uky.edu/content/caer-scientists-duke-energy-demonstrate-algae-based-carbon-capture-system

(from left) Mark Crocker, Stephanie Graham, Mike Wilson, and Jack Groppo



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/

 



25 Elementary School Science Teachers Learn from CAER Science Lab Tour

clock November 17, 2013 20:16 by author Marybeth McAlister

For several years CAER havs been part of KYNEED's bigger area tour for science teachers. The two day travels include power plants, mines, Locust Trace Elementary, etc.  The group gets a close up view and explanation of carbon dioxide capture, biofuel energy, and how coal ash can be recycled into useable products instead of land filled at CAER. 



Acclaimed Energy Documentary to be Shown at Student Center

clock November 17, 2013 20:04 by author Marybeth McAlister

Every energy resource — fossil, nuclear and renewable — is undergoing profound changes. This sweeping transition is the subject of Switch, an acclaimed new documentary where Dr. Scott Tinker travels the world, exploring leading energy sites from coal to solar, oil to biofuels, most of them highly restricted and never before seen on film. But rather than advocate for how it should happen,Switch travels the world to discover how it most likely will happen.

It will be shown at the UK student center’s Worsham Theatre on November 20th at 5:00 pm. Tickets are free. For more on the documentary, go to: http://www.switchenergyproject.com/about/the-film orhttp://uknow.uky.edu/content/switch-documentary-exploring-our-energy-future



Keeping Power Plants in Line with Federal Emission Regulations

clock November 17, 2013 19:20 by author Marybeth McAlister
Credit engr.uky.edu

 

Kentucky lawmakers were briefed about ongoing technological developments to make the state's coal-fired power-plants more in line with new federal emissions standards.  But, the effort may be more about keeping coal a viable source of energy for the state than it is about fixing the environment.

 

Rodney Andrews is the director for the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research. The Center's work is largely centered on what to do with the carbon dioxide that’s created as a result of burning fossil fuels like coal and contributes to climate change.

But Andrews says it’s not quite ready for prime time.

“These technologies take time to develop. They also take, unfortunately, a lot of money. So we are looking at projects going out as far as 2020,” said Andrews.

That troubled energy subcommittee co-chair Rep. Richard Henderson and other fellow Eastern Kentucky lawmakers, who criticized the EPA and Obama Administration for new emission regulations.

“Do we wait, and hope that we have a less radical administration the next time, and we can move forward with carbon capture? What do we do, what do we need to do as a body to help move East and West Kentucky forward?” asked Henderson.

Andrews’ answer? Continue funding research.

But even in the best-case scenario, he said, energy costs across the state will continue to climb in the years to come.

A version of this article was first produced by WEKU.



Geological Society of America Honors CAER Graduate Students

clock November 12, 2013 14:43 by author Marybeth McAlister

 Two UK students from the UK Earth & Environmental Sciences Dept. received awards recently. M.S. student Michelle Johnston received the GSA Coal Division's Antoinette Lierman Medlin Lab/Analytical Research Award. Trent Garrison, Ph.D. student, received awards from the GSA's Coal Geology Division and has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 Bernadine Meyer Memorial Scholarship from the Kentucky Society of Natural History. Both are performing long term research in the CAER coal petrology lab of Jim Hower, who has mentored hundreds of students in his career.

 


 

 



CAER Works with UK Pharmacy to help discover new medicines

clock November 12, 2013 08:52 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

In their ongoing quest to develop the latest and most effective drugs for disease treatment, researchers in the University of Kentucky's Center for Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation (CPRI) are looking deep — as in, deep underground.

 

It's all part of a new UK-based bioprospecting initiative, which involves a collaboration between CPRI, the Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), and the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS). The idea behind the program is to collect samples from unusual environments throughout the Commonwealth, with the goal of finding new, unique organisms that produce natural products that could potentially be used to develop new drugs with an initial focus on treatments for cancer, infectious disease and inflammation.

 

Many of our existing effective drugs are made by microbes. For example, erythromycin — an antibiotic used to treat a range of infections — is a natural product formed by bacteria found in soil. The anticancer agent doxorubicin is also another example of a microbial-produced natural product.

 

CPRI Director Jon Thorson and his 11-member lab team are part of a large consortium of investigators at UK focused upon the discovery and development of natural product-based drug leads from unique sources including bacteria, fungi and plants. Thorson also serves as the co-director of the Markey Cancer Center’s Drug Discovery, Delivery and Translational Therapeutics Program and co-director of the Drug Discovery and Development Core in the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

 

"The University of Kentucky is a remarkably rich and highly collaborative community for natural products-based research. As part of this effort, we are looking for new microbes that can produce novel bioactive molecules," Thorson said. "Instead of looking in places where other people have already been, we're trying to access new frontiers. The collaboration with CAER and KGS allows us to sample unexplored environments in the context of natural products discovery."

 

The most recent "new frontier" that Thorson's lab is exploring has very deep roots in the Commonwealth — literally and figuratively. Through the collaborations with CAER and KGS, his team has the opportunity to study products taken from Kentucky underground and surface coal mines, thermal vents from underground coal mine fires, mining reclamation sites and deep-well core drilling operations for carbon sequestration.

 

The initial collaboration with CAER involved studying emissions, and the corresponding microbes, associated with underground coal fires. The heat of the fires combines with the varying flora and mineral makeup of each site to create a distinctive environment for sampling.

 

"We decided that the coal fire sites were a very good starting point, because they are fairly unique," said Jim Hower, principal research scientist for Applied Petrology in Environmental and Coal Technologies at CAER. "They're really a prime target for sampling."

 

CAER has further helped drive the success of this project by introducing CPRI to new contacts in the Commonwealth, Thorson said. Hower and Greg Copley of CAER introduced CPRI to additional collaborators within the CAER as well as leaders of Licking River Resources, a subsidiary of US Coal, and the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, both of which have facilitated CPRI access to additional unique collection sites.

 

Through KGS' core drilling operation, Thorson's team has also accessed samples from deep underground — in fact, during drilling in the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field earlier this year, more than 40  samples of drill cuttings from depths ranging from 100 feet to nearly one mile underground were collected and sent to Thorson's lab.  Drill cuttings are ground rock that are continuously pumped out of a well during the drilling process.

 

“Once you drill below about 2000 feet, the salt concentrations in the water found in pores in the rocks are about three to five times that of the ocean,” said Rick Bowersox, a research geologist with KGS and part of the carbon sequestration research team.  “As might be expected in a  subsurface environment, the microbes are very different from those in a typical surface soil environment. These microbes have adapted to an environment of extremes in water chemistry, pressure and temperature.”

 

Once samples are collected, Thorson's team places the material on media plates and begins the painstaking process of purifying and growing each individual strain of bacteria. The team looks for organisms that are capable of producing novel molecules, and then isolates and characterizes the new compounds from these organisms. The compounds are housed in a repository and are made available to researchers across UK's campus to be entered into studies. As an example, Markey Cancer Center researcher Qing-Bai She recently discovered a class of molecules from the new repository that invoke a novel anticancer mechanism, setting the stage for further anticancer lead development studies.

 

Thorson's program has only been up and running for just over a year, but his team has already deposited over 75 compounds in the new UK natural products repository— and all have come from microbes that were found in the Commonwealth. Could Kentucky's natural landscape potentially yield the next big cancer drug? Thorson has high hopes.

 

"Natural products have been and continue to be a driving force in drug discovery," Thorson said. "And the hope is that some of tomorrow’s therapies may come from the coal mines here in the Commonwealth."


This first appeared in UKNOW.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VglEEjMviVA

 



Catalyis Expert Meets Another Milestone and is Honored

clock November 7, 2013 12:03 by author Marybeth McAlister

 

 

Associate Director Burt Davis is being honored by a Special Issue of Topics in Catalysis on “Catalysis for Energy Applications”.  The guest editors are CAER researchers Uschi Graham and Gary Jacobs, and the Chief Editors are Professor Gabor Somorjai (University of California, Berkeley, USA) and Professor Hans-Joachim Freund (Fritz Haber Institut der Max Planck, Gessellschaft, Germany).  The 39 papers, including 10 co-authored by at least one group member from CAER,  have been accepted and are being prepared by Springer Publishing for early 2014 publication. The prolific group also has two most-cited articles in Journal of Catalysis and Applied Catalysis A: General over the last five year period. 


Burt Davis



Zeolite Membrane Development PostDoc Position Available

clock November 5, 2013 13:47 by author Alice

The University of Kentucky, Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) is seeking to fill an immediate postdoctoral scholar opening. The successful candidate will develop a zeolite membrane/membrane reactor for gas/liquid separation/reaction.

The position requires a Ph.D. in materials science, chemical engineering, chemistry, or a related field from an accredited college or university. Prior experience in any field of synthesis of zeolite membranes, zeolite catalyst synthesis, or heterogeneous catalysis is highly desirable. Prior industrial experience in the production of zeolite catalysts, such as FCC or hydroprocessing catalysts, is also highly valued.

 



Founders and Innovators of Catalysis Science - Energeia Vol 24 - 2013

clock October 22, 2013 11:10 by author Alice

The next issue of the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research's newsletter, Energeia, (vol 24, issue 3, 2013) is now available.  Articles include: 

  • The Founders and Innovators of Catalysis Science, Part 2 by Dr Burt Davis
  • Why EPSCoR Matters by Jeff Mossey
  • News items including:
  • Record Breaking Catalysis Conference Organized by CAER Researchers.li>
  • Institute for Briquetting and Agglomeration 33rd Biennial Technical Conference
  • CAER selected for National Energy Technology Laboratory $3 million project