UK Opens Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Research Building


Courtney Fisk: Outreach is very important
to us just because energy is a hot topic right now, especially in the state of Kentucky,
and we’re very much in the game. Rodney Andrews: For a laboratory building
with as many fume hoods, with a hundred percent make-up air, all the demands for energy–getting
LEED Gold is actually very ambitious. Kevin Mussler: We can make some adjustments
to the system so that we can continually reduce that energy usage for the building. Not just
for today, but for the life of the building. Tim Murphy: As I think about this building,
it is sort of a living machine. It has the ability to adapt, to learn, to grow. VO: From chemicals that capture carbon dioxide
in flue gas, to algae that convert CO2 to fuel, to a new kind of concrete that could
save lives, CAER is leading energy research in Kentucky. The new 43,000-square-foot laboratory
building will significantly expand the center’s research capacity in three areas: Batteries,
Biofuels, and Solar and Electronic Systems. With eleven-point-eight million in federal
stimulus dollars, and additional funds from the state and UK, the building sets the standard
in energy efficiency. An additional three-point-five million in state stimulus funds allowed the
project to seek LEED Gold certification. Courtney Fisk: Budget times are tight. We
outgrew our existing facility. We needed the space. However, with that comes bills. So
it was very important to make sure we could build this facility and use it to the best
of our abilities, but also still be able to pay for it and keep the lights on. Going forward
with an energy efficiency attitude, and making sure that we design this to the best that
we could as implementing all the energy-saving features, whether it be architectural or mechanical,
was very important to us. Tim Murphy: Kevin, our engineer, his firm
CMTA, is one of the leaders around the nation in some of the technologies that we put into
this building. Kevin Mussler: It really takes everybody being
a part of it. It takes architects, engineers, users of the facility, everybody to make these
good decisions without sacrificing the importance of what the building really needs to do, which
is promote research. Tim Murphy: Our intention from day one was
always to get to LEED Gold. That did push us, because a laboratory building, especially
research, is a huge consumer of energy. So from the very beginning we had to treat this
as something different and a little bit unique. Kevin Mussler: To achieve all of the potential
points that are available in the energy and atmosphere credit, we would need to reduce
the energy in the building by 49 percent. We were able to even exceed that level and
actually save 54 percent. Courtney Fisk: We’ve certainly implemented
some new things for the university. We wanted to see how certain processes and items function,
and hopefully we can implement those in new buildings, or existing retro-fitted buildings
on campus to help improve our energy efficiency. Rodney Andrews: Probably the most significant
thing that we’ve done is worked with Environmental Health and Safety to be able to demonstrate
technology such as energy recovery wheels. Kevin Mussler: Energy recovery wheels have
been used a lot in a lot of buildings, but they’ve been shied away from in laboratory
buildings, and we wanted to challenge that paradigm. Rodney Andrews: Out of a laboratory, you have
to have a hundred percent make-up air, meaning the air goes straight out, new air comes in.
Not recycled. So what we’ve done is put in those lines a big wheel that recovers the
heat and the moisture of the air going out of the building and transfers it to the air
going in. Kevin Mussler: So when it’s hot and humid,
which it is a lot of times in Kentucky, we’re able to reduce that moisture and that heat
that you feel from that humidity. Rodney Andrews: But in order to do that in
a laboratory, you have to be worried about cross-contamination, and so we have air-quality
testing in every laboratory. It’s tested every 15 seconds. Kevin Mussler: They’re monitoring all of
the different particulates and TVOCs that are occurring in the laboratories, and if
any of those sensors then see a spike, all of that air gets flushed out real quickly
and protects the researchers. VO: CAER is also saving money for heating
and cooling water with 154 geothermal wells under the parking lot. By using the earth’s
constant temperature, geothermal is 6 times more efficient than traditional systems. Rodney Andrews: Geothermal works very well
in Kentucky. We’re actually probably much more familiar with it than other parts of
the country. Kevin Mussler: It’s a technology that has
been proven to be very energy efficient. Instead of using boilers and chillers, we’re using
actually, the ground, to absorb the heat. Rodney: Andrews: We also have process water
loops within the building that are tied into the geo-thermal system for cooling equipment. Tim Murphy: A lot of the experiments require
cooling water, and most of the time that water just comes across the equipment, cools it
off and then goes to a drain. Well, our engineers figured out a way to recycle that cooling
water and continually loop it through the building so we’re not wasting gallons and
gallons and gallons of water every day for the life of this building. Tim Murphy: Also to kind of help us reach
those energy usage goals, we had to make the building envelope very energy efficient. In
most places we doubled-up the amount of insulation that’s in the walls, as well as the roof.
We put a white coating of roof on top of the building that reflects the heat, the sunlight. Tim Murphy: There is an insulated glass called
a “nanogel.” That one-inch piece of glass provides the same insulating value as a brick
wall. So even though we’re getting light through that, we’re not losing our energy
efficiency. VO: The scientists, lab technicians and graduate
students who will benefit from these energy-efficient technologies work in three areas. VO: This building provides the Kentucky-Argonne
Battery Manufacturing Research & Development Center with specialized facilities to produce
and test the next generation of batteries. Rodney Andrews: One of the great things that
we were able to do by getting these awards, is that we’re able to leverage funds that
the state wanted to put into the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Center. And so we were able to put
in brand-new, much larger unique spaces for battery manufacturing, prototype lines, for
testing, and for materials development related to energy storage. There are two clean rooms in which you can
do roll coating to make the cells. From there, they can be taken into the dry lab. Kevin Mussler: 2,000-square-foot dry lab.
One of the largest in this region, if not in the United States. When it’s 70 degrees,
it needs to have 0.5 percent relative humidity, which is a very, very dry space. Rodney Andrews: That’s very important because
then the next part of the project is to put lithium, which will react violently with water
in the air, onto these. This allows us to really operate like a manufacturing plant
would. We also have then test facilities. These include
fire-proofed cells that are away from the building that we can use for doing initial
cycling, if there’s going to be a catastrophic failure, that’s when it will occur. They
can all be monitored from inside this building, greatly reducing any risks to the people doing
the work. VO: The biofuels laboratory, funded by the
Congressionally directed Kentucky Biofuels Program, tests fuel quality and develops new
processes and products. Rodney Andrews: It’s an open-access facility.
Any of the researchers in Kentucky in biofuels can get access to the equipment and to the
personnel in the facility to help them with their work. The same for industry within the
state. Rodney Andrews: Our work here is primarily
in conversion technologies and fuel testing, but this is a great step forward for the program
in that this laboratory was designed specifically for this sort of work, so it has the appropriate
hoods, has large walk-in hoods for reactor systems, then has a significant portion of
the laboratory set up specifically for analytical testing. VO: In this new lab space, UK chemistry professor
John Anthony’s team is developing materials and making devices like low-cost, organic
solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Rodney Andrews: It incorporates a dedicated
test area that allows you to test under controlled environmental conditions, as well as a specialized
dark room for testing performance. So there’s four stations. Each a separate dark room that
we can set up to simulate sunlight, and then test cells both in light and dark for their
behavior. Finally, there’s access to the roof, and there’s an area on the roof that’s
set up to hold cells, or arrays of cells, outside and do real weathering tests and performance
testing. VO: State stimulus funds allowed CAER to share
the unique energy technologies inside this building with visitors. Courtney Fisk: Outreach is very important
to us just because energy is a hot topic right now, especially in the state of Kentucky,
and we’re very much in the game. This gives us the opportunity to really showcase the
excellent research we have going on here at the center, and educate our students, and
hopefully try to get them into the STEM careers moving forward. We give a lot of tours in
our existing facilities already. Not only to school students, but other groups around
the state and the country. It’s a very open-door policy. Rodney Andrews: So there are a lot of windows
from the hallways that can look into the labs. This allows us to take tours through without
interrupting the activities of the lab, or worrying about health and safety risks. Outside
of every laboratory is a display monitor. We’ve been able to put in a public education
display in the lobby of the building, which is interactive, and lets you explore the research
of the groups that are going on, as well as looking at all the energy usage for the building.
You can compare this building’s energy efficiency versus our 1978 laboratory building. It was
made to the state-of-the-art that was known then, and so you can see the difference in
the technologies that have been implemented in between. Kevin Mussler: We’re going to be able to
know if different parts of the building are using more energy than what was anticipated.
With that information, then, we can make some adjustments to the system so that we can continually
reduce that energy usage for the building. Not just for today, but for the life of the
building. VO: The building itself is a living machine,
one that will test technologies that will impact the University of Kentucky’s energy
usage for decades to come. And the research happening inside will create the batteries,
biofuels and solar cells to power our future. 2

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3 thoughts on “UK Opens Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Research Building”

  1. Trent Garrison says:

    'Tis awesome!

  2. Tee Rak says:

    we can produce endless amount of energy and clean water by electrolysis of sea water then take the hydrogen alone to high altitude where we combine it with atmospheric oxygen and drop the water on hydraulic generator from this high altitude as in dams

  3. Dennis Harold says:

    I think you can see how to make it on Avasva . This is just an advice 😉

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