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Spring 2018 Research Projects

Calibration of 3D Scanners for the Autonomous Monitoring of Paved Surfaces

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Jack Stewart, Jacob Culler, and Tran Minh Ngoc Phan

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Daniel L. Lau, Kentucky Utilities Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Kentucky

Abstract: Aging American roadways are quickly deteriorating. Monitoring over 2.6 million miles of pavement is an extremely resource-intensive process jointly because of the lack of automation and because of the sheer scope of the task. As a result, repairs are often put off until the roads are critically damaged to ease the strain on workers. This research will provide valuable information regarding the deployment of several remote, self-sufficient robots which would allow paved surfaces to be monitored much more frequently, allowing repair crews to begin addressing the minor, inexpensive repairs as well as the larger, more expensive ones.

Advanced Materials from Industrial Hemp Using Deep Eutectic Solvent for Clean Water Applications

Undergraduate Research Scholars: David Jenkins and Andrew Lin

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jian Shi, Assistant Professor, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, University of Kentucky

Graduate Student Collaborator: Lalitendu Das

Abstract: There are vast quantities of under-utilized agricultural biomass and arable land in the United States and Kentucky Specifically. Industrial hemp is a potential crop that is well suited to Kentucky’s climate, growing seasons, and topography. Current research has not yielded the optimal combination of deep eutectic solvent, hemp variety, time submerged and temperature treated at to produce carbon materials from lignin with industrial hemp. Optimizing this process could decrease waste and increase industrial hemp’s viability as a profitable crop. A pretreatment of longer duration at higher temperatures of industrial hemp varieties using Choline Chloride-Lactic Acid deep eutectic solvent will produce a larger yield of lignin carbon materials to be used for later processes.

Origami-Inspired Building Envelope for Wind-Storm Resilient Low-Rise Structures

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Alex Nguyen, Caylee Marshall, and Chris Addington

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mariantonieta Gutierrez Soto, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Kentucky

Abstract: This research covers the application and inspiration of origami in engineering research. Origami’s influence on design decisions and form factors are becoming increasingly common and diverse. Strategic folding in design provides versatility in function and form, which lends itself to a wide variety of applications. This research investigated different aspects that the origami designs can be applied to, how to fold, new ideas and implications for the folds, the origami aspects of glass and how that can be incorporated into new building designs.

Conversion of Waste Plastic from Water Systems to a Fuel Oil

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Shelby Browning and Samuel Hawthorne, Paducah Campus

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jeffery Seay, PJC Board of Trustees Engineering Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Kentucky Paducah Campus

Abstract: Waste plastic is slowly filling the earth and it’s water systems. According to scientists, at the current rate, the weight of plastic will exceed the weight of fish in the ocean by 2050. This poses an immediate threat to life on earth. As plastic works its way up in the food chain and becomes more concentrated, human and sea life are at risk of poisoning. The question is: What can be done to halt this process? If certain types of thermoplastics are heated to just below their respective boiling points, the hydrocarbon bonds will break to form a vapor that can be condensed to form a fuel oil that will be more calorific and emit less Carbon Dioxide than pump-grade diesel fuel. From this perspective, waste plastic can be transformed from trash to a commodity. To explore this idea, a custom-built reactor will be placed inside a wood burning stove. By using a wood burning stove, the cost of the experiment will be lowered versus using a gas or electrical heat application, plus be more feasible in undeveloped areas where waste plastic is a much greater problem. The proposed process will accomplish the three pillars of sustainability: economically prosperous, socially viable, and environmentally responsible.

Analysis of the Water Distribution System in Martin County, Kentucky

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Kelsey Cole and Allyson Douglas

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lindell Ormsbee, Director Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute, Raymond-Blythe Professor of Civil Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Kentucky

Graduate Student Collaborator: Erika Hernandez

Abstract: Over 90 percent of Americans receive their drinking water from a public drinking water system, however the American Society of Civil Engineers has given the United States’ Water Infrastructure a D rating. Martin County, Kentucky has one of the worst water distribution systems in the nation, with 113 boil-water notices and 48 water system violations in twelve years, not to mention the fact that residents will often go for days without water due to leaking pipes (“The Water Crisis in Martin County, Kentucky”). In order to aid the residents of Martin County, we developed a computer model of the water distribution system and conducted steady state, transient and water age analyses. The steady state analysis allowed us to calibrate the system based on the age and material of the pipes obtained from Martin County. Then, the transient analysis allowed us to detect areas of negative pressure in the system where a vacuum could be created, sucking untreated groundwater into the system through leaks and breaks in the pipes. Finally, through the water age analysis, we were able to study the chlorine concentrations that have led to several water system violations. Based on our findings, we were able to provide the Martin County Water District with recommendations on how to improve the system.

Coarse-Graining of Ionic Liquid Electrolytes to Deliver Accurate Dynamics at the Mesoscale

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Amber Pitt, Lexi Parks, Paducah Campus

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sergiy Markutsya, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Kentucky Paducah Campus

Abstract: Current coarse-grain molecular dynamics methods accurately predict structure but not dynamic properties such as diffusion coefficient and viscosity. The question is: Does the application of new coarse-grain method accurately predict both structure and dynamic properties of ionic liquids when compared to reference atomic molecular dynamics simulation? This research investigates the application of a new coarse-grain method that will accurately predict both structure and dynamic properties of ionic liquids when compared to reference atomic molecular dynamics simulation.

Investigating N Levels in a Stream

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Jack Keady and Reagan Gorman

Faculty Mentor: Dr. William Ford, Assistant Professor, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, University of Kentucky

Graduate Student Collaborators: Brad Ballard, Cory Radcliff, and Alexandria Jensen

Abstract: Streams in recovery from storm events, which are considered a volume 10 percent above that of normal recorded values, will see a rise in nitrogen concentration due to runoff, such as agricultural or industrial. During storm events, runoff from agriculture or industry gets into waterways and can change the levels of chemicals in the water. The amount and type of chemicals being added to the water during the storm events need to be analyzed and measured. For this study, a local stream was analyzed at two water collection points, one upstream and one downstream. At these points, water was collected every 7 hours. Collected samples were analyzed to calculate nitrogen and phosphorous levels. Also a flow-rate monitor was used to collect data to show stream volume and flow rate of the stream. This research found that nitrogen amounts in the stream are too high for the stream to naturally remove and are in need of restoration.