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Combustion and Emissions Program for 1994-1995

John Stencel

Contact: John Stencel
Associate Director, Combustion and Emissions Program

The emphasis of this program has shifted over the last few years. It has moved away from its former focus on atmospheric pressure fluidized combustion, which is now regarded as a mature technology, and has been redirected to concentrate on other aspects relating to the clean use of fossil fuels, principally coal. Efforts are now primarily concerned with development of dry coal cleaning methods for improving the quality of coal feedstocks for power generation, and with the control of flue gas emissions.

Flue gas emission control: In research partly sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority, investigations are concerned with improving the applicability and efficiency of circulating dry scrubbing (CDS) technology for the simultaneous control of SO2, NOx and hazardous air pollutant emissions from fossil energy power systems. Pilot-scale studies have shown that CDS can effect ultra-low SO2 emission control, and that fluidized bed combustion by-products can be used effectively as an adsorbent. Preliminary pilot-scale experimentation also suggests that the CDS technology can be used for simultaneous SO2 and NOX control.

Contact: Jim Neathery
Phone: 859-257-0259

Under DoE sponsorship, continuing studies have been made to determine the potential of electrostatic dry separation technology for removing mineral matter and pyrite from coal, and applying the technique as a continuous, in-line coal cleaning method at a utility, where mineral matter is removed between the coal pulverizers and the burners. Measurements made on the coal-feed line at a 350 MW coal-fired power plant have shown that it would be possible to use the charge imparted on particles during pulverization for electrostatically separating mineral matter from coal.

Contact: John Stencel

The electrostatic dry separation technique has been extended to other applications: the separation of fly ash from unburned carbon where experimental results have shown that this separation can be efficiently accomplished by maximizing the charge imparted to the carbon particles under triboelectric conditions: interest in this work has led to promising indications of industrial support for pilot-scale development. Funding has also been provided by NASA/EPSCoR for the application of this technique to the separation of ores.

Contact: John Stencel

The NASA/EPSCoR project also evaluates physical and chemical alterations to commercial activated carbons for increased effectiveness of methane (CH4) storage for space mission energy needs. These alterations have included the modification of pore structure through the deposition of carbon by heterogeneous reactions and gold by ion exchange methods. The goal of the work was to optimize the pore size distribution of commercial carbon for the CH4 molecule and thus increase the CH4 adsorption capacity of the carbons. Both gold and carbon were found to increase the conductivity of the carbon, an important issue in insuring a stable heat gradient during methane storage and use.

Contact: Jim Neathery - Phone: 859-257-0259
Email     or

Contact: Aurora Rubel - Phone: 859-257-0209

The use of commercial activated carbons for NOx power plant emissions control is the focus of another on going project. Work has shown that NOX adsorption capacities of activated carbons can be as high as 200 mg NO2 /(g carbon) as long as O2 is present. During the current year, experimentation focused on the effect of pressure and low SO2 concentrations on the NOx adsorption capacities of activated carbons. Results were promising, indicating a synergism between NOx and SO2 which resulted in co-adsorption of both gases under typical power plant flue gas stack conditions.

Contact: John Stencel     or

Contact: Jim Neathery - Phone: 859-257-0259

A project entitled "Evaluation of a Pneumatic Martian Soil Sampler Concept," partially funded by the NASA-Ames University Consortium Program, was completed during FY94 - 95. The project objective was to demonstrate the potential for a novel subsurface sampling device which has the potential advantages of being more compact, lighter weight, containing fewer moving parts and being more dependable than mechanical augers. Tests performed on simulated Martian soil successfully demonstrated the concept, showing 2 meter penetration depths for a variety of operating conditions.

Contact: John Stencel

"EPSCoR: An Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research" - EPSCoR was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1979 to assist states in becoming more competitive in research on a national level. Kentucky became an EPSCoR state in 1986 by receiving an award from the NSF. Since 1986, other federal R&D agency EPSCoR programs such as Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have awarded Kentucky EPSCoR funds. Total federal EPSCoR dollars awarded to the state exceed $28M.

Kentucky's EPSCoR program is a federal-state partnership aimed at improving science and engineering research, education, and technology capabilities in the Commonwealth. EPSCoR, universities and colleges, the State and industry have coordinated efforts to help researchers improve their capability to successfully compete for non-EPSCoR Federal and private sector research funds.

The Kentucky EPSCoR program has been very successful. Current Federal EPSCoR awards exceed $10M and project funding from all sources totals $34.5M. Federal awards to Kentucky EPSCoR over the past three years are nearly triple the awards for the first seven years. Cumulatively, state appropriated funds for EPSCoR have been leveraged two and one-half times by the Kentucky EPSCoR Program.

Kentucky DOE/EPSCoR networks universities with government, industries and DOE national laboratories to build excellence and sustainability in research, education, and statewide infrastructure. This $4 million program has established the baseline of systemic improvements in fundamental and applied research in fossil energy, environmental sciences, high energy and nuclear physics, and material sciences. Progressive economic development in the Commonwealth is a cornerstone of the overall program goals.

The objectives established for KY DOE/EPSCoR are to:

  • Effect permanent and systemic improvements in the quality of energy related science and engineering research program in Kentucky;
  • Assist Kentucky scientists and engineers to become nationally competitive in energy programs which impact on the needs and future economic development of Kentucky;
  • Improve systemically the science and engineering education pipeline in Kentucky; and
  • Ensure that improvements achieved through EPSCoR-initiated efforts continue beyond the end of the grant period.

Visit the EPSCoR Web site to learn more about the KY DOE/EPSCoR Program at