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How UK Researchers and Partners are Working to Reduce, Eliminate Carbon Emissions

December 07, 2022

University of Kentucky researchers at the PPL Corporation R&D Center in Lexington, KY, concluded an annual program research meeting with Carbon Management Research Group (CMRG), a collaborative industrial-state-federal partnership.

CMRG was organized by the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet and the UK Center for Applied Energy Research in 2008 with the goal of speeding up decarbonization and carbon-neutral energy production to reduce the risk and impact of climate change. Founding members of the group include Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities, Duke Energy, Kentucky Power, East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

“Carbon management technologies developed with CMRG and DOE support over the past fifteen years, better position member energy producers and energy consumers to meet their common goal of eliminating carbon emissions,” said Kunlei Liu, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

CMRG reviewed the UK team’s work towards developing processes and technologies related to affordable and sustainable carbon capture and utilization, such as negative blue and green hydrogen production, battery storage, hydrogen production and material recovery from end-of-life lithium batteries and solar panels. 

“With support from CMRG members, our group is developing technology that can reduce, or eliminate, carbon emissions from power plants and industrial facilities, as well as remove carbon dioxide from the ambient air using direct air capture,” said Liu. “We hope this technology will be used to not only reduce carbon dioxide emissions but reverse them. In addition, our team is also developing technologies to recycle batteries and solar panels that can be used to support the growing electric vehicle industry here in Kentucky.”

Technical presentations at the meeting highlighted four UK-developed processes for: low cost, flexible CO2 capture applicable to any point source, including solvent quality maintenance and continuous energy penalty minimization; direct air CO2 capture with carbon-negative hydrogen co-generation for cost off-set; CO2 utilization with formic acid and algae production; and blue/green hydrogen production via gasification technology.

Additionally, a panel comprised of representatives from ALL4, NOV, Nucor Steel Gallatin, PPL, U.S Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE NETL), and Vogt Power presented their perspectives on air-permitting, the challenges associated with, and need for deployment, dispatchability and potential cost reduction of CO2 capture solutions.

Attendees included representatives from DOE, DOE NETL, PPL, LG&E and KU, NOV, Aramco, Valvoline, EPRI, Bechtel, Nucor Steel Gallatin, Exxon, Calpine, Vogt Power, EOG Resources, EKPC, TotalEnergies, Kiewit and ALL4.

“PPL is honored to work side by side, every day, with the University of Kentucky here at the PPL R&D Center, and across our portfolio,” said Aron Patrick, director of research and development at PPL Corporation. “This joint industry, university, and government research partnership supports our commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, while maintaining reliability and affordability for our customers.”