UK Helps Launch Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Institute
by Keith Hautala, UKPR
entucky is both benefiting from and making “UK will also contribute to, and benefit from, important contributions to Detroit’s new $148 million lightweight materials manufacturing institute, announced in late February by President Barack Obama. The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) will receive $70 million in Department of Defense funding, with $78 million in matching support from a public-private consortium, including more than $4 million from Kentucky.
ALMMII is charged with developing and deploying advanced lightweight materials manufacturing technologies and implementing education and training programs to prepare the workforce. The institute is one of three announced this year as part of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, a White House initiative founded to help U.S. manufacturers employ leading-edge technology to become more competitive.
According to John Walz, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, Kentucky, with its strong aluminum manufacturing base, also stands to benefit from education and training programs developed by the institute.
“This is a great opportunity for the college and for the university to be a significant partner in a project of this scale and of this importance,” Walz says. “Our participation in ALMMII will produce dividends for the university, for the partnership and for the Commonwealth.”
“UK will also contribute to, and benefit from, collaborative research and development projects through the institute,” adds Y.T. Cheng, Frank J. Derbyshire Professor of Materials Science and one of the participating faculty members.
Faculty members will contribute to various projects that are vitally important to Kentucky, and to the United States as a whole, through the Center for Aluminum Technology, Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing and Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. According to Cheng, these collaborative research projects will also help enhance UK’s research and development capabilities in lightweight metals.
UK President Eli Capilouto says UK’s participation would help to advance the university’s mission in a number of ways.
“UK’s partnership in this institute engages our human capital and intellectual curiosity in collaborative and creative scholarship. Our role will support research and development in ways that are significant to education we provide, industries we support in our state and the economic competitiveness of our nation.”
UK is one of nine universities that has joined with 34 private companies and 17 other organizations in the public-private consortium.
UK Engineering Faculty Part of $12.2 Million NIH Superfund Grant
by Carl Nathe, UKPR
n June, the University of Kentucky Superfund chemicals and clean up contaminated sites. Kentucky has Research Center (UK-SRC) received a $12.2 million grant (five year duration) from the National Institutes of Health to continue its work of better understanding and minimizing negative health and environmental impacts from hazardous waste sites.
The Nutrition and Superfund Chemical Toxicity grant funded through the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is administered through the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. It supports the efforts of more than 50 scientists and students from 15 departments within the colleges of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Arts & Sciences; Engineering; Medicine and Public Health.
The grant sponsors five specific research projects, as well as five core areas of focus. Research project and core leaders (two out of the five projects) from the College of Engineering include the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering’s Dibakar Bhattacharyya, Thomas Dziubla and Zach Hilt, as well as the Department of Civil Engineering’s Kelly Pennell and Lindell Ormsbee, who is also the UK-SRC’s associate director.
UK Superfund Research Center’s biomedical research focuses on the idea that nutrition can help reduce negative health effects from exposure to hazardous chemicals. Environmental science researchers at the center are working to develop new methods to detect hazardous rates of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension, well above national averages. The state is also home to more than 200 federal Superfund sites, including 14 active sites that are on the National Priorities List, a list of the worst sites in the country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines Superfund sites as uncontrolled or abandoned places where hazardous waste is located.
In Kentucky, such sites include abandoned waste dumps and large industrial facilities. Many of these sites are contaminated with environmentally persistent chlorinated organic compounds-molecules which contain carbon and chlorine-such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and trichloroethylene (TCE). Bhattacharyya’s project deals with integration of membranes with iron particles for toxic organic remediation from water. Hilt’s project investigates pollutant sensing and capture. These two projects will support four to five Ph.D. students per year in the College of Engineering.
“We are optimistic that the results from our environmental science research will help accelerate the clean-up of several Superfund sites in Kentucky, such as the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Our research is likely to have other applications as well, including uses in treating drinking water and removing toxic metals from power plant water,” says Ormsbee.