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UK Building Will House Alternative Fuel Projects

By Brenna Angel

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research broke ground Tuesday in Lexington on a facility that could someday lead to changes in where and how the U.S. fuels transportation needs. The $5.7 million building will serve as a process development unit.

"It's a facility that's designed and built around doing more larger demonstration-scale work on some of the chemical processes involved in converting coal and coal-biomass mixtures into alternative fuels," says CAER Director Rodney Andrews.

It won't be much to look at on the outside, but Andrews says the large box-like structure will allow researchers to demonstrate gasification and gas cleanup on an industrial level.

"What this can change is development of these technologies in a more efficient way and a way they have a smaller environmental footprint could allow the United States, and in particular Kentucky, to reduce the amount of fuels we're importing."

Kentucky Congressmen Hal Rogers and Geoff Davis spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, saying the country needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. The facility is funded largely by the U.S. Department of Energy with additional financial support also from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet and UK.

Construction for the building will take about 9 months. It will take the Center for Applied Energy Research about three years overall to design and build the gasification units.