$14.5 million award to foster energy efficiency research

The UK Research Foundation was awarded more than $14.5 million for a program that will create ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs of advanced carbon capture systems.

Four awards were given out by the U.S. Department of Energy, and UK was the only university chosen to receive one, said Rodney Andrews, the director of UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research. The UK award totals $14,502,144.

The research is focusing on systems used at coal-fired power plants, with the goal being to “develop CO2 capture and separation technologies that can achieve at least 90 percent CO2 removal at no more than a 35 percent increase in the cost of electricity,” according to the federal news release.

Andrews said this means there would be about a 50 percent reduction over the costs of doing carbon capture.

“We’re looking at how do you take this process and how to consume less energy to make it more efficient and cheaper,” Andrews said.

The Center’s Power Generation and Utility Fuels group will lead the project, “Application of a Heat Integrated Post-Combustion CO2 Capture System with Hitachi Advanced Solvent into Existing Coal-Fired Power Plant.” It will take place at LG&E/KU’s Brown Power Plant.

The award was matched by $4.9 million from industry partners, UK and the state, Andrews said.

“It is an important topic for our state. We are very dependent on coal for electricity and we need to have options of how we deal with any sort of regulation for carbon dioxide,” Andrews said.

He said he is excited about the award.

“It is a big deal for us, for the university, for the state in terms of the investment the state made,” Andrews said.