Photo: Andrew Marsh, Conn Center
Maria Carreon, Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering, adjusts a biofuel reactor at the University of Louisville's Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. Photo: Andrew Marsh, Conn Center

Energy inventors

In Energy by Kentucky Living

When I put on my safety glasses and walk into a research lab, my heart beats faster—what if somebody I meet turns out to be the Edison of our century? Will the next man or woman I talk to be the person who solves a key energy problem?

Len Peters, Kentucky’s Cabinet Secretary for Energy and the Environment, says, “Energy research is going on all over the USA, but the area where Kentucky gets the most recognition is coal research. We are viewed as one of the leaders.”

Developing new materials to make coal power plants operate more efficiently or discovering the best ways to sort out and use coal byproducts would be a big break-through for the scientists at Western Kentucky University’s Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology in Bowling Green. Men and women at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research in Lexington are testing new ideas every week, trying to develop practical technology to capture and store carbon dioxide from coal power plants.

But Kentucky’s energy researchers are interested in more than coal. Scientists at Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies in Richmond are running experiments to see how algae and other biological materials can be used to produce energy. At the University of Louisville’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, scientists and engineers are working on battery systems, and on improving buildings so they’re more energy efficient. They’re also hunting for ways to use plants to make cheaper and longer-lasting solar cells.

Improving the materials used in batteries and how they’re made keeps researchers busy at the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center at Spindletop Research Complex in Lexington.

As soon as I hear someone say “aha!” I’ll tell you about it here in Kentucky Living magazine.

  • Nancy Grant from November 2014 Issue
  • Andrew Marsh, Conn Center
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