Center for Applied Energy Research Investigates All Energy Options
The University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research has expanded its original coal-focused mandate to include renewable and alternative fuels.
The University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research is keeping pace with the changing energy landscape, thanks to short- and long-term projects for both fossil and alternative fuels. Recent fossil fuel projects include the development of a concrete-like substance, made using coal byproducts. The quick-setting material is ideal for first responders assisting with mine or building collapses. “We were really proud to see that go out of the lab and into the commercial environment,” says Marybeth McAlister, CAER's communications manager. Another group of researchers is working with Kentucky utilities on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The project recently won a $14 million federal grant enabling it to progress to the demonstration stage. But CAER isn't just about fossil fuels. In August 2012, the center opened a new building dedicated to renewable energy. Research there currently covers biomass, biofuels and solar, among other renewable energy sources. Shiela Medina, CAER associate director, is especially proud of Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER), a program for converting unused houseboats to energy-efficient housing, using primarily Kentucky products and labor. CAER collaborated with faculty and students from the University of Kentucky College of Design to produce the first HBEER prototype, which was presented for ribbon-cutting in January 2012. “Our advisory board has people on it from all aspects of the energy industry,” Medina says. “We try to listen to everyone and direct our research into areas that are impactful and beneficial for the citizens of Kentucky.”