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News and information from the EMS Energy Institute.
On June 12, the Pennsylvania Ground Water Association, Inc. held their seventh annual summer field conference. As one of this year’s sponsors, the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (WPPSEF) helped support the event by providing a grant for a number of free homeowner registrations.
In addition, PA Home Energy, a new program from the Penn-State managed WPPSEF to help consumers reduce home energy, had an informational booth at the event.
This year’s conference was held at the new PGWA Well Demonstration Site in Rock Springs near State College, PA. The conference included field demonstrations of geothermal heat pump construction and operation, equipment displays, and training sessions.
Caroline Burgess-Clifford sits on a coal to
Laura Bradley presents her paper at the
Qiujing Yang presents at the
Several individuals from the EMS Energy Institute recently attended the 34th Clearwater Clean Coal Conference to gain valuable exposure for ongoing coal research at Penn State. Staff and researchers represented Penn State in many conference events over the course of five days.
Caroline Burgess-Clifford, a senior research associate at the EMS Energy Institute, presented an in-depth tutorial on direct coal to liquids, which received much praise. She also participated in a panel discussion on coal to liquids, in which the benefits of indirect and direct liquefaction were discussed.
Penn State was also well represented during the conference’s technical sessions. Caroline Burgess-Clifford presented Coal-to-Liquid Processes for Production of Transportation Fuels, Carbons and Coal-Based Pitch; Laura Bradley, an undergraduate student in Chemical Engineering, presented The Effect of Fuel Composition on Pyrolysis Kinetics; and Qiujing Yang, a post-doctoral scholar in the EMS Energy Institute, presented Rheological Study of Coal Liquids Derived from Direct Coal Liquefaction.
Laura Bradley, whose paper discussed work she performed during an independent study at the EMS Energy Institute, received a Best Student Paper Award. The award was based on her manuscript and presentation during the conference.
In addition, Penn State had a booth, under the coordination of Shea Winton, Writer/Editor and Public Relations Specialist, in the conference’s exhibit center. The booth, which generated a lot of interest among attendees, focused on activities and research within the EMS Energy Institute and the Consortium for Premium Carbon Products from Coal (CPCPC).
The 34th International Technical Conference on Clean Coal and Fuel Systems, Coal: World Energy Security was held from May 31 to June 4 at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater, Florida.
The conference draws coal experts and professionals from around the world to exchange information on power generation and policy issues. Technical papers, tutorials, panels and plenary sessions cover cutting-edge developments on a range of topics.
Laura C. Bradley, an undergraduate student in Chemical Engineering and working at the EMS Energy Institute, received a Best Student Paper Award at the 2009 Clearwater Clean Coal Conference for her paper, The Effect of Fuel Composition on Pyrolysis Kinetics.
She received the award during the 34th International Technical Conference on Clean Coal and Fuel Systems held from May 31 to June 4, 2009. The Best Student Paper Award Committee evaluated the students on the manuscript they submitted and the presentation of the material during conference technical sessions.
Nine students participated in the award representing Penn State, University of Stuggart, The Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology, and University of Utah. Laura, who recently completed her sophomore year, was the sole undergraduate student in the competition while the others were graduate students. Two students were awarded Best Paper and Laura shared the honor with a PhD student from the University of Utah.
Laura presented work she performed as an Independent Study during Fall 2008 that was funded by the Foster Wheeler, NA. Her advisor for the Independent Study and co-author on the manuscript was Dr. Sharon Falcone Miller. Laura Bradley has worked in research at the EMS Energy Institute since the summer after her freshman year to the present. Her plans are to continue her work in pyrolysis kinetics leading to a journal publication of her research.
The EMS Energy Institute recently published the first edition of a new newsletter. The newsletter, Energy Innovation, will be an annual publication and will provide an avenue for us to keep our friends and partners current on energy research and developments, outreach efforts, and faculty and student achievements.
In addition to our annual publication, we will continue to publish up-to-date news in our online newsletter. However, in order to remain consistent, our online newsletter's name will change to Energy Innovation.
EMS Energy Institute researchers Dr. Xiaoliang Ma, Dr. Xiaoxing Wang and Prof. Chunshan Song have been working to develop an a dvanced Molecular Basket Sorbent (MBS) for CO2 Capture. An article discussing the results of their research, “‘Molecular Basket’ Sorbents for Separation of CO2 and H2S from Various Gas Streams,” was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
In response to an environmental need to mitigate the amount of CO2 being releasing into the atmosphere, the research team has developed a “new generation of ‘molecular basket’ sorbents (MBS),” shown to have superior performance when compared to other known sorbents and the first generation of MBS. In addition to the capture of CO2 from flue gas, the new MBS is also able to separate CO2 and H2S, respectively, from various reduced gases. H2S is corrosive to equipment and pipelines, and poisonous to the catalysts used in the subsequent processes and fuel cells.
The new MBS resulted from the combination of a solid nanoporous material and a polymer sorbent and has many distinct advantages. One advantage of the new MBS is that it has the highest CO2 sorption capacity in the comparable temperature range and ambient pressure among all the commercial and state-of-the-art adsorbents, absorbents and sorbents reported to date. The new MBS is regenerable and has a higher sorption – desorption rate due to higher gas – sorbent interface area.
In addition, based on the found exceptional dependence of MBS performance on termperature, the research team proposed a new two-stage sorption process. This process, described in the article, was demonstrated in the laboratory and successfully removed CO2 and H2S, respectively, from a model gas.
For more on this article, visit the Journal of the American Chemical Society online at http://pubs.acs.org/journal/jacsat .
Boehman receives Wilson Award for Excellence in Research
André Boehman (left) and Dean Easterling (right) at the 2009 Wilson Banquet and Awards Presentation.
From left to right, Jean Denis Pone, Yu Noda, Meredith A. Hill Bembenic, Dr. Chunshan Song, Dirk T. van Essendelft, Gregory Lilik
André L. Boehman received the Wilson Award for Excellence in Research during the 2009 Wilson Banquet and Award presentation for his "scholarly and creative excellence as evidenced by his contributions to the coherent theme of alternative transportation fuels and advanced combustion." Boehman is a professor of fuel science in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering.
The 2009 Wilson Banquet & Awards Presentation was held on April 19 to recognize student achievement, faculty mentoring, faculty commitments to service, and excellence in research and teaching.
Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering 2009 Awards Banquet - Student Awards
Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants
Charles B. Darrow Award
Jean Denis Pone
C.C. Wright Award
Dirk T. van Essendelft
Daniel van Niekerk
Frank and Lucy Rusinko Graduate Fellowship
Gregory K. Lilik
Meredith A. Hill Bembenic
Chevron Corporation Environmental Systems Scholarship
Laura C. Bradley
Robert Stefanko Memorial Scholarship
William L. Dennis
Robert and Leslie Griffin Award
Meredith A. Hill Bembenic
Over 300 people attended the second annual PA Home Energy Conference at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center on March 18 – 19, 2009. Attendees learned how to adjust their businesses to thrive amidst today’s economy, environmental concerns, and the increasing demand for energy efficiency.
The conference featured several high profile speakers, including Sam Rashkin, the national director of ENERGY STAR for Homes, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Honorable James Cawley, the chairman of the PA Public Utilities Commission; and Keith Welks, the deputy state treasurer for Fiscal Operations, PA Treasury Department.
Speakers touched on incentive programs and funding for homeowners, such as Keystone Help; Act 129, which imposes requirements on electric distribution companies; and federal stimulus money and how it will be directed into “green” initiatives state-wide. They also talked about the need for consistent standards when building and auditing for energy efficiency and the ways to market efficiency.
In addition, a variety of exhibitors allowed attendees, including PA Home Energy service providers, contractors, remodelers, builders, developers and realtors, to get a look at the latest home performance diagnostic tools and technology.
PA Home Energy  is a new program from the Penn-State managed West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (WPPSEF)  to help consumers reduce home energy. ENERGY STAR products, for both new and existing homes, are a major component of the program. Since its inception in August 2007, PA Home Energy has touched almost 300 homes.
Williams International, a major manufacturer of small gas turbine engines, successfully completed a test burn of a coal-based jet fuel in one of its commercial engines. The fuel, provided by Penn State, was the culmination of twenty years of research.
Williams International tested the fuel in an FJ44-3 engine, widely used in the general aviation market. The company ran 2,000 gallons of the alternative fuel through 118 engine-cycles during 21 hours of operation at its Walled Lake, MI facility. During the test, the engine performance using the synthetic fuel was identical to using Jet-A, a conventional petroleum-derived fuel; no modifications were required. According to Williams International, this test validates the flexibility of the FJ44 engine design to take advantage of alternative fuels composed of different compounds and created from various processes.
Penn State initially developed this particular fuel in response to a request from the air force to be able to withstand 900 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours without degrading. The air force was looking for a specialty fuel that could be used in extremely high performance aircraft where there is a need to have on-board coolant. The simplest solution to that need is to use the fuel as a coolant according to Dr. Harold Schobert, a professor of fuel science at Penn State. So a team of researchers worked to develop a fuel that wouldn’t degrade and clog engine components, such as fuel lines, injectors and filters, when exposed to such high temperatures.
The specifications, which inspired the fuel’s name, JP (Jet Propulsion) 900, reflected what the air force believed to be the most difficult conditions a fuel could possibly have to withstand. After Penn State developed the JP-900 fuel, the air force said it was the most stable liquid they had ever tested. However, the research team recognized that the fuel might have other applications.
“We realized about five years ago that not only did we succeed in making a specialty fuel to these absolutely wild specifications, we have a coal-based replacement fuel that could be used as a replacement for JP-8 or Jet-A,” Dr. Schobert said.
It turned out that the fuel they developed to the air force’s requirements met essentially all of the specifications for the current conventional jet fuel – a petroleum-derived fuel called JP-8 in the military and Jet-A in civilian aviation. So Penn State made a second batch of one hundred barrels of the fuel and sent the bulk of it to Williams International for testing.
Dr. Schobert spoke about two major benefits of replacing the petroleum-derived Jet-A. First, the new fuel is made from a domestic American resource – coal, which is an important step toward greater energy independence.
Second, the fuel was designed with production steps that are the same as those in currently operating oil refineries.
“What that means is that it is much cheaper and much faster to get this fuel into production than if you started a synthetic fuels plant from the ground up,” Dr. Schobert said. “If you start with a grass-roots synthetic fuel plant, a good rule of thumb is that you multiply the number of barrels per day of fuel by 100,000 and that’s the cost in dollars of the plant. So a 50,000 barrel-a-day plant is 5 billion dollars. It’s hard to get a loan for that much.”
By adding this fuel production process to an existing oil refinery a lot of the infrastructure is already
present, reducing the initial capital and the building time. Dr. Schobert believes that the time involved in building a plant – six years or more – is something the public doesn’t fully understand.
“From a national security perspective if something goes haywire in the Middle East,” Dr. Schobert asked, “what are we going to do for six years?”
Throughout the 20 years, this project has been funded by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Sandia National Laboratory. Dr. Schobert was joined by various researchers in the EMS Energy Institute, including André Boehman, professor of fuel science; Caroline Burgess Clifford, senior research associate; Robert Santoro, Guillet Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Chunshan Song, director of the EMS Energy Institute; and Semih Eser, professor of energy and geo-environmental engineering. In addition, the University worked with Intertek-PARC and Duquesne University.
Williams International  is the world leader in the development, manufacture and support of small gas
turbine engines. The privately owned company is headquartered in Walled Lake, Michigan.
The Energy Institute received over $624,000 in contracts and grants during the third and fourth quarters of the 2008-2009 fiscal year (January 2009 - June 2009).
Caroline Burgess-Clifford; Coker Runs; Industry
Tim Ryan; Imaging of Fossil Primate Petrosal; University
Randy Vander Wal; National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Johnathan Mathews; Research on South African Coal Samples; Industry
Caroline Burgess-Clifford; Coker Runs; Industry
Caroline Burgess-Clifford; Coker Runs: Catalyst Runs III; Industry
Semih Eser; Analysis of Tubes by Microscopy; Industry
Bruce Miller; Thermogravimetric Anallysis Testing; University
Phil Halleck; Pretzel Swelling Study; Industry
Phil Halleck; Imaging of Nougat Bars; Industry
Andre Boehman; Research in Thermal Oxidative Stability of Jet Fuel; Industry
Andre Boehman; Research in Thermal Oxidative Stability of Jet Fuel; Industry
Derek Elsworth; Study on sedimentary basins in the U.S.; Industry
Tim Ryan; Scan fossil skulls; University