Diverse CAER Projects to Assist with National Security and Explore Renewable Energy
Several new projects have been funded at the CAER. Our varied research portfolio is reflected in the variety of funding agencies and projects listed below:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Institute of Hometown Security
Reducing the Explosive Potential of Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer
The destructive power of an ammonium nitrate and fuel oil explosive mixture has been demonstrated in a number of malicious attacks, most notably the one on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Both components of this deadly mixture are readily available. Darrell Taulbee is leading a project to continue research on reducing the blast potential of ammonium nitrate. In a previous NIHS project, Taulbee successfully demonstrated that the explosive potential of ammonium nitrate fertilizer can be diminished by coating it with coal combustion by-products. This follow-on project focuses on issues that must be addressed before the treated ammonium nitrate can be introduced for commercial agricultural use.
Carbon Foam-Based Protection Systems
Versatile, multifunctional, lightweight, inexpensive materials that provide blast protection, electromagnetic shielding, radiological protection, and easy removal of chemical agents are needed to protect the U.S. infrastructure. CAER researchers have received a grant to develop new carbon foam materials that can protect structures and vehicles against fire and blasts. The material will have applications for existing, as well as, new buildings.
Rapidly Deployable System for the Structural Stabilization of Shock Damaged Structures
The CAER will focus on stabilizing structures damaged by blasts or natural events. Often first responders must enter structures that have been damaged. These damaged structures are usually unstable and put the lives of the first responders at risk. This project will produce a shotcrete that is capable of hardening rapidly, has a high ultimate strength, and can bond to a variety of surfaces. A simple delivery system for the shotcrete will also be developed.
E.ON International Research Initiative Award, 2007
A Facile Method for Storing and Rapid Release of Renewable Energy to an Electrical Grid
Energy storage may hold the key to expanding renewable energy and managing peak demand. CAER is investigating how to store energy using asymmetric carbon-based electrochemical capacitors instead of batteries. 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.
U.S. Office of Naval Research
High Energy Density Carbons for Electrochemical Capacitors
Steve's second recent grant is part of a larger effort at the Office of Naval Research to advance the state-of-the-art of electrochemical capacitors for use in lightweight hybrid power systems.
Alltech, an international biotechnology firm headquartered in Kentucky, will build a rural community biorefinery, with researchers at the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture and Center for Applied Energy Research performing the research and development end of the project. The plan is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and an incentive from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority. Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering faculty members will develop ways to harvest, store and move the cellulosic materials like corncobs. CAER researchers will investigate ways to use the residues from fermentation.