July-August, 2003 - VOLUME 2, NUMBER 4
General CAER News
The CAER facility to produce multiwall nanotubes (MWNT), which was commissioned in January, is in full production. Production is, from time to time, exceeding the internal needs for the material while research on process optimization is on-going. A university committee is reviewing possible sales of research byproducts and it approved CAER's request to work towards establishing an entity through which excess MWNT can be sold to defray some of the research costs. It is anticipated that a Carbon Materials Research Core Facility will be established in the near future for this purpose.
A CAER strategy session ("retreat"), stretching over two half days, was held with 18 CAER staff and four faculty associates attending. The meeting's purpose was to assess the technical progress and performance of the year since the last retreat, consider the current circumstances, and discuss plans for moving forward. The issue of financial constraints, lack of cash flow from proposals, and service/contract work as well as opportunities to rectify the gaps, were considered. The retreat was a good opportunity to share the technical content of work between groups and to ensure that all researchers have an appreciation of the financial situation. Follow-up actions include a CAER-wide technical "portfolio" meeting every four months to stimulate more collaboration between groups to improve the likelihood of winning proposals.
The CAER has an updated web site. Several people in the staff services groups (e.g., Information Services, Library, and Publications Depts.) have spent months revising both the appearance and content of the site and hope the result is pleasing to the eyes, easily navigable, interesting, and relevant. The URL is the same: www.caer.uky.edu. We welcome all comments on the changes.
Proposals and Awards
For 2002/2003, 37 proposals were submitted of which 15 were awarded (40%) and nine are still pending. Four more proposals have been submitted since July 1 with more in preparation. The low cash flow is ascribed to the fact that the size of the awards was on average much lower than in the past.
A significant DOE proposal has been selected for negotiation. This project was submitted in July 2002, but DOE only announced the winners in August 2003. It is a $618,000 project over three years in the area of the separation of Fischer-Tropsch wax from catalysts. The CAER contribution will be $126,000. Burt Davis is the PI.
Mark Crocker has received an award under the auspices of the State Partnerships Program. The project title is: "Novel Sulfur Adsorbent Materials for Energy Applications" and concerns the development of adsorbents for the removal of organosulfur species from light hydrocarbon feeds. Its value is $50K, which is to be spent at Oak Ridge National Lab (Fuels, Engines and Emissions Research Center).
Meetings and Special Presentations
Ari was invited to present testimony on August 15 to the Special Subcommittee on Energy in Frankfort. This committee meets monthly to consider energy-related matters and recently started operating again after a several-month hiatus. The topic for the testimony was the work done in 2002 to draft an Energy Policy for the state. This activity came to a stand-still by the end of 2002. Ways to move forward were suggested. The presentation was well received and considerable discussion ensued. Ari was asked to present testimonies on three further topics later this year.
Rodney Andrews attended the UK NIRT Nanomachining Workshop in Lexington, Aug. 14-15.
Drs. Uschi Graham and Burt Davis authored an article that is featured on the cover of Advanced Materials. The article is entitled "Morphological control of hollow tubular carbon nano-structures." Co-authors are: G. Bhimarasetti, M.K. Sunkara / University of Louisville; and K. Rajan, C. Suh, R. Dove / Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.
Dr. Ajay K. Dalai, a visiting professor from the University of Saskatchewan, will be on sabbatical at CAER for a period of one year to study Fischer-Tropsch synthesis with the catalysis group.
Outside Organization Interactions
Ari attended a two-day DOE workshop in Columbus, OH to discuss the strategies regarding coal combustion R&D at universities. The area of coal combustion is currently extremely under-funded by the DOE, but the purpose of the workshop was also to define substantial topics for research so that these can be fed into the DOE's proposals for FY 2005 funding. The workshop made extensive use of the DOE/CURC/EPRI technology road map which was published earlier this year. CAER participated in the drawing up of the road map.
The issue of Energy and Environmental Strategy was again raised with the UK executive to follow up on some of the recommendations of the Task Force which reported to the Provost in February 2003. The issue of energy policy and the position of the Kentucky Coal Council, also received a fair amount of attention given that the Council is currently severely limited in its funding. A document is being drafted to bring options for a path forward to the attention of policy makers and the next administration in Frankfort.
Intellectual Property Achievements
Patents have been awarded to Burt Davis (Fischer-Tropsch for high olefin selectivity in the diesel range) and to Rodney Andrews (Polymethymethacrylate augmented with carbon nanotubes).