Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Special Subcommittee on Energy was held on Friday, August 19, 2016, at 10:00 AM, at the Center for Applied Energy Research, Lexington, Kentucky. Senator Jared Carpenter, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Jared Carpenter, Co-Chair; Representative Dean Schamore, Co-Chair; Senators Ernie Harris, Brandon Smith, Johnny Ray Turner, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Hubert Collins, Tim Couch, Jim Gooch Jr., Martha Jane King, Jerry T. Miller, Sannie Overly, Tom Riner, John Short, Fitz Steele, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Lane Boldman, Executive Director, Kentucky Conservation Committee; Chris Moore, Executive Director, Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA); and Doug Hendrix, General Counsel, KCNA.
Senator Carpenter said that there are two informational items on the agenda, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Block Grant Half-Year Status Report and the Executive Order 2015-574 creating the Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA) and Board, and information on both are in the members’ folders. Senator Carpenter introduced Chris Moore, KCNA, Executive Director, and asked members to direct any questions about the executive order to Mr. Moore.
The July 15, 2016, minutes were approved by voice vote and without objection upon motion by Representative Yonts and second by Representative Collins.
Welcome to the Center for Applied Research
Mr. Rodney Andrews, Director, Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) explained that CAER is part of the University of Kentucky (UK). CAER was created in 1974 by the General Assembly for the purpose of researching, supporting, and growing synthetic fuels from coal and oil shale. In 1988, the General Assembly attached CAER to UK. CAER’s mission is to develop more efficient and environmentally acceptable uses for Kentucky’s fossil fuels and other natural resources. Mr. Andrews stated that 92 percent of Kentucky’s electricity in 2014 came from coal. Today, that percentage has fallen to about 80 percent. Kentucky produces 3.2 percent of all the industrial electricity in the country and approximately two percent of residential electricity. Mr. Andrews explained that CAER focuses on how to reduce the environmental impact of Kentucky’s energy production and use. CAER does research and development on how to use byproducts of coal such as coal ash, scrubber materials, and other byproducts of heavy industry consumers. CAER looks at other energy options for Kentucky such as renewable energy sources and low-cost and reliability of electric power. Other issues include energy efficiency, energy security, and promoting economic development. CAER has 153 employees which include students, tech support, scientists, engineers, postdoctoral scholars, and others. Laboratories support mineral processing and fiber development, and a CAER greenhouse and synthesis and pitch laboratory. CAER works in collaborative research groups such as Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis, Power Generation and Carbon Management (largest group), Material Technologies, Clean Fuels and Chemicals, Electrochemical Power Sources (energy storage), and Organic Electronics. CAER’s Carbon Capture and Utilization research group partners with utility companies in Kentucky to develop cost-efficient technologies for reducing CO2 emissions.
There is a $36 million pilot project ongoing at the E.W. Brown Generating Station. Mr. Andrews said that CAER has applied for funding a large scale carbon capture demonstration at LG&E’s generating station in Trimble County. If CAER is awarded federal funding, then it would have approximately a $119 million economic impact for Trimble County. The project would demonstrate that the technology could meet the Department of Energy’s carbon capture and storage goals of 90 percent CO2 capture rate and 95 percent CO2 purity rate at a cost of $40 per ton.
In response to Representative Martha Jane King, Mr. Andrews explained that it would be a chemical scrubbing process. Scrubbers being used now are for sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. Scrubbing CO2 is more difficult than scrubbing sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
Mr. Andrews explained that Tekcrete and Tekcrete Fast is a sprayable, shock proof concrete that sets extremely fast. It would be used on damaged structures. He said that the University of Kentucky and Minova, located in Georgetown, have partnered to develop Tekcrete for use in reinforcing mining seams.
In response to Representative Steele, Mr. Andrews said that Tekcrete is fiber re-enforced that would amount to over 8,000 psi.
Mr. Andrews said that the Department of Energy is encouraging more research on rare earth elements. Rare earth elements are essential to modern life applications such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. They occur in coal and other industrial materials. Sufficiently high concentrations would be a huge resource for the country.
Mr. Andrews explained that there is a unique pilot plant coming on line to study coal gasification and create diesel fuel. CAER is focused on developing value-added Kentucky products that can be used to develop batteries and electrochemical capacitors. One last area of research is Organic Electronic. Organic means things that are carbon-based. The focus is on low-cost solutions for energy harvesting. It is the development of organic thin-film transistors, organic solar cells, and organic light-emitting diodes.
In response to Representative Riner, Mr. Andrews said that the carbon fiber program is in a partnership with the Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal. The materials being developed at CAER are being used as research materials as to how the carbon fiber is standing up to certain situations such as lightning strikes or being hit by a missile.
In response to Representative Yonts, Mr. Andrews said that CAER was not focused on carbon capture storage. However, the Kentucky Geological Survey has done some work on carbon capture storage. CAER has a vendor that buys carbon captured in a project.
In response to Representative Schamore, Mr. Andrews stated that the Trimble County project would be completed in about four and one-half years if it receives federal funding.
In response to Representative Gooch, Mr. Andrews said that there are other types of carbon mitigation options rather than carbon capture and storage, such as mineralization, algae, and reforestation. These carbon mitigation options still have efficiency and technique issues. Mr. Andrews also stated that he had not seen any sources regarding carbon emissions from natural gas surpassing coal emissions.
In response to Senator Harris, Mr. Andrews said there are 117 elements on the periodic table, and many of them have been created.
In response to Representative Schamore, Mr. Andrews stated that CAER receives an allocation from the University of Kentucky. The funds are used for operating expenses and salaries, and some of the funds are used as leverage for federal funds. CAER’s general fund budget is approximately $5 million, and the overall budget is around $20 million. Sometimes the legislative budget specifies funds for use toward specific projects. However, most of CAER’s state funds come from UK’s budget.
In response to Representative Couch, Mr. Andrews said that carbon fiber can be produced from any coal in Kentucky. Some eastern coal and some low ash coal have been used. Gasification can produce a tar-like material. As part of this process, any of the coals can go into the gas fire and produce the material. Mr. Andrews said markets for this fiber will continue to increase. There are new applications where the product will be less expensive to make. The material used for airplanes and for automobiles actually comes from polyacrylonitrile. Pitch, if produced as a byproduct, would be part of a different type of fiber.
In response to Representative Martha Jane King, Mr. Andrews explained that using fly ash in concrete is different from Tekcrete. Fly ash is used in concrete to create furniture and other products. Tekcrete uses a different chemistry. There are several different chemistries for making cement and concrete. With Tekcrete, CAER is changing the formulation, chemistry, and reactions from traditional cement.
The meeting was adjourned for a tour of the facility.