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General CAER News

  • CAER Director Rodney Andrews visited the University of Alicante, where he was on the Ph.D. committee for Daniel Bortz. Daniel is the first UK student to study in Alicante as part of the universities' exchange program. Andrews also visited ICE Valencia to discuss collaborations. Finally, he traveled to Gurpo Antolin in Burgos to discuss ongoing collaborations.
  • Ashley Parrott, the new policy staff member at Governor Beshear's office, toured the CAER and learned about the Center's energy directions.

UK Interactions

UK CAER Researcher Mike Wilson at the Big Blue Goes Green Event

  • Researchers Andy Placido and Michael Wilson were busy at this year's Big Blue Goes Green, while demonstrating the CAER's method for cleaning up CO2 from power plants via algae. Michael was interviewed by both the Kentucky Kernel and UKTV. Kentucky Energy Club program advisor, Bree McCarney helped organize the event this year and was on site as well.
  • Rodney gave a presentation and toured a group of UK students from business and engineering. They are part of a special Scholars-in-Engineering and Management (SEAM) program provides an opportunity for engineering and business majors to come together.

Outside Interactions

Tractor plowing in a field

  • Patriot BioEnergy LLC is collaborating with BetaSeed Corporation of Shakopee, Minnesota, Lage y Cia S.A. of Montevideo, Uruguay, and Hapy of Milan, Italy; and researchers at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, as well as the City of Williamsburg and Whitley County Fiscal Court to demonstrate the viability of hybrid sugar beets, or 'energy beets' as an energy crop. These beets are genetically engineered to yield a biomass energy crop that ultimately can produce ethanol. The 'energy beet' is a non-edible biomass crop that moves beyond the use of corn for ethanol and is an advanced biomass crop for energy production. The by-products can be used as a livestock feed supplement.

3 people standing at a mine field

  • On October 12, CAER Eastern KY Regional Representative Greg Copley organized a coal mining excursion for international visitors. Keith Fletcher of Licking River Resources in Magoffin Co. gave a surface mine operation tour for visitors from Sweden and South Africa. Mr. Fletcher described the mining operations and provided insight to Susanna Baltscheffsky, an environment and climate reporter with Svenska Dagbladet in Stockholm, Sweden. Additionally Nicola Wagner, a visiting professor from South Africa, working at CAER with petrologist James Hower participated in the tour. This was the first time either had been to a Kentucky coal mine.
  • Several CAER researchers and representatives traveled to Rio Tinto Alcan (an aluminum smelter in Robards, Ky) to discuss future collaborations.

People sitting at a table

  • A panel from Indonesia recently visited the Kentucky Dept. for Natural Resources. The CAER's John Hiett, manager of Mine Map Center, made a presentation on Kentucky's world-class mine mapping information system that geo-references and offers scanned mine map information to the public over the internet.
  • CAER Director Rodney Andrews participated in Commerce Lexington's Clean Technology Focus Group forum in early September.
  • Rodney and Associate Director for Clean Fuels and Chemicals, Burt Davis, visited Chart Energy in La Cross, WI to discuss collaborations.
  • Shiela Medina and Greg Copley met with Jonathon Gay (ICC), and Gary Marshall (EKU) concerning merging the innovation centers of Paintsville and West Liberty.

Mayte Gil Agusti

  • The Electrochemistry Group hosted Dr. Mayte Gil Agusti, from Valencia, Spain, as a visiting scientist for a week. She was from the Energy Technology Institute (ITE) at the University of Jaure I Castellon, in Valencia, Spain.

Meetings and Special Presentations

Sarah and Greg at Exhibit Booth

  • CAER regional reps (Greg Copley and Sarah Mardon) exhibited at the KACO (KY Association of Counties) meeting in Louisville October 26th - 28th. They talked with county officials about potential projects and CAER's capabilities.
  • Jack Groppo delivered two technical presentations at the 18th International Conference "Ashes from Power Generation" in Zakopane, Poland October 19-21.
  • Rodney participated in a panel discussion on carbon capture activities at the annual Governor's Conference on Energy & the Environment.
  • Rodney and Sheila Medina (CAER's Engagement Associate Director) attended a presentation by Jolly Hayden on Barriers to the Next Era of Energy Development in Kentucky. It was presented to the state's Energy Committee at the Capitol Annex in Frankfort.
  • The Kentucky NSF EPSCoR staff, along with Rodney (who is also the KY NSF EPSCoR director) and Courtney Fisk (Program Manager) attended the annual conference in Idaho the week of October 24th.

Media Coverage

MathCounts at UK CAER

  • The September issue of Kentucky Living is dubbed the "Creativity Issue." The cover story is about fun, outside-of-the-classroom learning events. It highlights the CAER/Kentucky Energy Club night last spring that saw state MathCounts finalists from around the state come to CAER where they created ping-pong K'NEX catapults, edible racing cars, and miniature papier-mache dams. To read the story, go to the most recent issue of Kentucky Living.


  • CAER Associate Director Tom Robl participated in a panel discussion at WFPL, along with Tom Fitzgerald, Founder and Director of the Kentucky Resources Council; John Voyles, Vice President of Transmission and Generation Services LG&E-KU; and Scott Slesinger, Legislative Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Louisville's NPR affiliate broadcast a news special on coal ash on October 13th. See the station's web site for rebroadcast and podcast information.
  • Rodney was interviewed by UK's Research Communications Group on several topics. The video will be used as part of several videos the group is doing on the CAER. He also spent time being interviewed the UK Half radio program by Carl Nathe.


Kentucky Energy Club Logo

The Kentucky Energy Clubs (now with active chapters at UK, EKU, MSU, ACTC) were in full swing this semester. Events included:

  • Michael Speaks, College of Design kicked off the Kentucky 101 series at the UK Davis Marksbury Building with a talk on design, energy, and innovation, followed by a presentation in October by the state energy cabinet's renewables expert, Kate Shanks, who spoke on renewable energy and use in the commonwealth. The CAER's Jack Groppo spoke at Morehead on US Energy Policy as part of the same series. These are all part of a semester-long series of energy talks open to the entire student population of the universities and advertised throughout the schools.
  • On the 19th of September, energy officers participated in UK's Energy Resource Fair coordinated through the Office of Sustainability.
  • The EKU Chapter was active with faculty advisor Brad Barnett leading the group in the Cityfest Student Organizational fair, which the club used as recruitment for the EKU chapter.
  • The Morehead group participated in the Repair Fair, where club members volunteered time to weatherproof lower income housing.
  • The Ashland Community and Technical College saw a couple of kick-off/recruitment events, led by program coordinator Bree McCarney.
  • An event open to all chapters was the Dinner Series, where energy VIPs from across state attended and student members asked questions to learn about the current energy scene. Energy Secretary Dr. Len Peters was the speaker.

Energy Club at Mine Tour

  • Finally, there was a site tour of the Riverview Mine in Waverly, KY in late October. This is an underground mine in western Kentucky near Henderson. Twenty two students and advisors from all chapters attended.

Andy Placido at Teens On Wheels Event

  • Biofuels researcher Andy Placido exhibited at The Teens on Wheels safety program in Boone County. The event is designed to educate teen drivers about first-time driving experiences and potential hazards they may encounter on the road. The interactive booths provide opportunities for teens and their parents to talk with professionals in various fields about their areas of expertise. Approximately 75 teens and their parents attended the event.
  • Western Kentucky Energy Coordinator Sarah Mardon exhibited at GRADD's Green Living Symposium to share information about CAER. Some of the other organizations present include KY Pollution Prevention Center, Madisonville Community College, UK Agricultural Extension Office, Kenergy, and Malcolm Bryant Corp.
  • She also attended the third annual Plugged-In Energy Week, sponsored by the Northwest Kentucky Energy Initiative, which took place with a series of events designed to provide education about and support for the energy industry. Sarah and Shiela Medina organized a Renewable Fuels Class for high school and Job Corps students, taught by Paul Dolloff. Rodney Andrews, Shiela Medina, and Sarah Mardon attended the Henderson Rotary Club meeting that week and Rodney presented information about energy to the club.
  • Finally, she and Greg Copley exhibited at the Governor's Conference for the Environment. While at the conference, they interacted with people from various agencies and businesses, including Alternative Energies KY LLC, KY Dept. for Environmental Protection, and Patriot Bioenergy.

UK Chemistry Dept demo for National Chemistry Week

  • The UK Chemistry Department held its annual chemistry demonstration on Oct. 21 in honor of National Chemistry Week. The demonstrations are performed mostly by graduate students. Elementary and middle school kids attended the show to learn about chemistry and safety in the laboratory. The demonstration included experiments such as "The Dancing Gummy Bear" and the "The Disappearing Rainbow." It also included safety demonstrations to show the kids how important it is to wear safety goggles and personal protective gear in the lab.

Teaching and Instruction

  • Steve Lipka served on a dissertation committee as co-advisor for Raghu Mangu, UK's Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who completed his defense on August 3, 2011.
  • CAER Director Rodney Andrews lectured first year UK engineering students on careers in energy in the Engineering 101 Course this fall. The course is designed to give incoming freshmen engineering students a broad perspective on all disciplines of engineering, thereby helping them choose their majors as informed students. The special focus this year is on energy. He also lectured on the energy challenge facing the U.S. for Honors 301.
  • Jim Neathery, Jack Groppo, and Rodney Andrews are teaching Power Generation Technologies in the College of Engineering. This class covers energy and fuel-related issues by way of topical/thematic lectures and assignments. The interaction between fuel, environment and economics are covered for a range of technical options.
  • Kevin Henke is teaching Earthquakes and Volcanoes (GLY 150) this semester as an evening course in UK's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Staff/Student Accolades

  • Jim Hower has been appointed as a full member of the University of Kentucky graduate faculty. With this designation, he can now chair a Ph.D. committee at the university.

Coal Logo

  • The Science Coalition, a group that encourages congress to expand and strengthen the federal government's investment in university-based scientific, medical, engineering and agricultural research, recently sent a newsletter to congressional members that heralded some of the nation's top research efforts to keep our country safe, in light of the 10th memorial of the 9/11 disasters. Among the projects described was CAER chemist Darrell Taulbee's project that lessons the explosive potential of ammonium nitrate by coating it with coal combustion by-products.

John Craddock

  • Carbon Researcher John Craddock was awarded 'Best Missiles & Missile Defense Poster' at the National Space and Missile Materials Symposium (NSMMS) in Madison, WI for his poster titled "LFA Studies of Multiwall Carbon Nanotube Array Thermal Interface Materials for Composite Missile Airframes".


  • UK received $505k with $309k coming to the CAER from U.S. DOE through a subcontract from Virginia Tech for $309K for the Development of Advanced Preprocessing of Coal/Biomass. This includes a UK cost share of $62K. Darrell Taulbee will lead the Center's effort. Other departments include Mining Engineering and Materials Engineering.
  • Kunlei Liu was awarded two grants from the private sector. Green Tech. Limited Company granted a proposal on Chemical Looping and Solvents for CO2 capture for $60K each.