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General CAER News

Progress is being made at laboratory scale with a project to produce coal-derived coke for use in the carbide industry. Preliminary results are encouraging and work is continuing to have large enough batches of the material made for industrial testing.

Discussions were held with Dr. Tom Sparrow, Director of the Center for Coal Technology Research at Purdue University. Purdue is considering establishing a R&D program in Indiana and the possibilities for collaboration were explored.

Meetings and Special Presentations

CAER Director Ari Geertsema made several presentations during November and December. Descriptions are listed below:

  • On December 1 Ari made an invited presentation entitled "Liquid Fuels from Coal: Practicalities" at the Wye River Conference on Strategic Initiatives for Coal and Power. This conference was organized by senior Department of Energy (DOE) staff. There were also attendees from the Department of Defense, who were specifically interested in the potential of producing jet fuels from coal. There is a growing awareness of the need for a greater degree of independence from the increasing amounts of imported crude oil. However, even at the current high oil prices, coal to liquid fuels does not look economically attractive unless some special financial arrangements are made.
  • Ari made another special presentation on December 3 when he presented a lecture: "Clean Fuels from Coal" at the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Louisville.
  • In the arena of state government, Ari provided testimony before the Kentucky Governor's Commonwealth Energy Policy Task Force. He covered primarily the need for an energy agency to coordinate energy related affairs in Kentucky and indicated a number of funding opportunities which could benefit the Commonwealth.
  • Finally, Ari made two presentations at the Tenth Southern African Conference on Coal Science and Technology, Johannesburg, in November: Coal: Initiatives and Activities in the USA, which was the Invited Keynote Address and Advanced Multi-Product Coal Ash Processing Technology, An invited paper co-authored with Tom Robl, Jack Groppo and others.

Outside Interactions

On December 28, a kick-off meeting for a Kentucky FutureGen initiative was held under the leadership of Secretaries Host and Wilcher. For the immediate future, the focus will be on gathering data related to potential sites and the geological sequestration potential of sites will be a key factor. A task force has been assembled and Ari will be part of the team which will include representatives from the KGS.

Proposals and Awards

Jack Groppo has received a contract from the U.S. Dept. of Energy for a project titled, "Environmentally Safe, Large Volume Utilization Applications for Coal Gasification By-products" (value $342,000).


The Fayette County School Board recognized an educational outreach program between the CAER and Russell Cave Elementary School at the Board's November 23rd meeting. The program, which began in 2002, brings CAER scientists into the 4th-grade classroom for demonstrations and hands-on experiments by the students.

Staff Accolades

Rodney Andrews was featured in the most recent edition of The Lane Report, as an expert in the field of nanotechnology.

David Graham passed his Master's defense in Chemical and Materials Engineering.