University of Kentucky CAER Home

UK Center wins E.ON International Competition for Research

E.ON Awards - Kentucky Delegation
Left to Right - John W. Moffett (EON-US Manager of Research &
Development), Dr. Markus Ewert (EON Vice-President Corporate
Development New Technologies), Dr. Steve Lipka (CAER, Univeristy
of Kentucky), Don Challman (Assistant Director & General
Manager CAER), Bernhard Fischer (EON -Energie Board of Management),
Dr. Rodney Andrews (Director of CAER).

Energy storage may very well hold the key to expanding renewable energy and managing peak demand. And, the Commonwealth of Kentucky just proved that it has one of the world's leading research centers on the topic.

The University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research was among 10 international universities and institutes that won a total of 6 million euros (approximately $9.4 million) in an international research competition conducted by E.ON AG of Dusseldorf, Germany.

For the center's idea to use carbon capacitors to store energy, CAER netted nearly $1.2 million to further research the theory. More than 50 international universities and institutes from 11 countries submitted innovative ideas on energy-storage technologies. Other winners included projects dedicated to a variety of energy storage methods such as highly efficient batteries, using electric vehicles as mobile storage units, compressed air storage systems on the seabed, and new heat storage devices for combined heat and power units.

"CAER went head-to-head with some of the world's finest research institutes and proved what we in Kentucky have known for quite sometime," said Paul W. Thompson, Senior Vice President, Energy Services. "As a whole, we need to continue to push for innovative energy solutions, and it's nice to have a worldwide leader in this type of research right here in Kentucky."

Thompson announces the grant today at the first Energizing Kentucky conference in Louisville. The conference was organized by UK, the University of Louisville, Centre College and Berea College.

CAER will study how to store energy using asymmetric carbon-based electrochemical capacitors instead of batteries, as has been done previously. Batteries have limited cycle life and cannot withstand the cycling of charging and discharging at high rates, where capacitors can handle very rapid charging and discharging over hundreds of thousands of cycles. Additionally, batteries require more maintenance and are not as efficient in capturing energy as rapidly as electrochemical capacitors, which exceed 90 percent.

"Steve Lipka's work on highly efficient energy storage devices complements the lab's other renewable energy efforts. This project is directed to solving a key technology needed for wide-scale use of renewable energy resources in electric power production," said CAER Director Rodney Andrews.

Lipka added, "We are honored to have received this award and commend E.ON for its commitment to develop innovative approaches for energy storage in the electric utility industry."

Over the next 10 years, E.ON has committed to award research grants totaling 60 million euros (approximately $94 million). Energy storage was the focus of the 2007 competition. Each year the company will identify a different energy research focus to help solve key problems with the world's energy supply. In 2008, the focus will be on nanotechnology in the energy business.

Storing energy could make renewable energy more accessible in areas like Kentucky, where the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. Additionally, energy storage could help energy companies manage peak demand more effectively.

E.ON U.S. and CAER have a long-standing relationship. In 2006, E.ON U.S. committed $1.5 million to CAER to study clean-coal research.

June 4, 2008 Press Release