UK's energy research center receives $1.9 million grant

The University of Kentucky won a $1.9 million federal grant Thursday for a research project that a U.S. Department of Energy news release says "could fundamentally change the way the country uses and produces energy."

The project at UK's Center for Applied Energy Research is among 37 energy-related projects nationwide that were awarded a total of $106 million.

The UK project is aimed at removing carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants in a cheaper way. Others focus on producing advanced biofuels more efficiently from renewable electricity and designing new types of batteries to make electric vehicles more affordable.

Specifically, UK researchers will work on developing cheaper, simpler methods for coal-fired power plants to separate carbon dioxide from flue gas, according to the project's principal investigator, Kunlei Liu.

The benefit, Liu said, is that the plant would be more environmentally friendly. "It's important to develop a new technology," he said.

Liu is also one of the researchers heading a 10-year, $24 million project announced last year by UK, electric utility companies and the state to reduce carbon dioxide from power plants that use coal.

In January, the Center for Applied Energy Research at Spindletop Research Park was targeted for an $11.8 million federal stimulus grant to help build an energy research facility. The 36,000-square-foot laboratory will be an expansion of the existing center and will be used to research advanced batteries for electric cars, biofuels, clean coal technology and solar energy.

Other universities and organizations receiving grants Thursday included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.