Home | Background | Tech Xfer | Organization | Capabilities | Updates | How to Apply | Awards

Seed Funds Awarded

2006 KU ERC Energy Research Development Grants Announced

ERC Campus Advisory Board announced winners of the 10th annual Energy Research Development Grants for 2006. A total of four new awards were made that total $30,972. Projects support energy-related projects for new faculty and funds to support new research directions of new staff and faculty in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, and the Kansas Geological Survey. In addition, $8,500 was contributed to purchasing equipment that would support new energy-related research at KU.

Dr. Wai Kiong (Oswald) Chong, CEAE, $8,800, "Improving life cycle performance and energy consumption prediction using aged samples and electron microscopy to examine thermal and moisture performance due to natural deterioration of roofing materials".

The merit of this proposal recognized by the board is improved measurements to assess roofing deterioration and the modeling thereof that my lead to new working relationships and possible external support from EPA and NIST. The linkage of this research with the successful phase-change building insulation is also a strong feature of this proposal.

Dr. Scott White, Kansas Geological Survey, $6,140, "The Kansas Energy Atlas".

Project will provide geographic context to the energy data and projects in Kansas through the use of GIS technology with the intent to grow this activity to a national scale through external funding. The atlas should substantially increase the ease of access to energy data and projects in Kansas, providing a new means to enable energy research in and outside of the KU community.

Dr. Trung Van Nguyen, $7,362, "Direct Conversion of Coal to Electricity Using… Fuel Cell Technology".

Project is new and innovative with considerable upside potential to increase efficiency and make more environmentally benign the use of coal in electrical generation. Coal currently supplies 23% of the US electricity consumption.

Mario A. Medina, CEAE, and Ray Taghavi, Aerospace Engineering, $8,670, "Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Refrigerated Vehicles Via a Phase Change Technology Developed at KU".

New collaborative effort to extend the use of phase change building insulation to transportation sector in order to demonstrate proof-of-concept for external funding. Prior research on use of phase change material in fixed walls has resulted in a 60% decrease in heat transfer across the wells, amounting to a considerable energy savings. This research would address design challenges and simulation software previously developed by Medina and Taghavi to model heat transfer and aerodynamics will be integrated. Preliminary data should help secure private and government funding.

Jennifer A. Roberts, Luis Gonzalez, and Robert Goldstein, Department of Geology, $8,500, towards equipment purchase to support research program in carbonate diagenesis.

New research will include industry-sponsored work on experimental carbonate precipitation and dissolution examining novel approaches to understanding quantifying carbonate diagenesis in natural systems.


Award Amount
Trung Van Nguyen Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Sponsor for project "Build and Test Fuel-Cell Powered Vehicle

Jie Han, Associate Professor, Civil/Environmental/Architectural Engineering

Development of a Predictive Geomechanical Model for Recovery of Coalbed Methane


Micromechanics (micro-geomechanics for geo-applications) is ideal for investigating micro-behaviors of soil or rock mass, such as pores and fractures. Continuum mechanics and micromechanics will be coupled to investigate multiple scales of a geo-engineering problem. Micromechanics will also be coupled with fluid flow model to simulate hydraulic fracturing.

Susan Williams, Assistant Professor, C&PE

Determination of Active Species in Au Supported on Iron and Cobalt Mixed Oxides for the Selective Oxidation of CO


The work proposed is necessary to generate sufficient understanding of the newly synthesized catalysts. A systematic study of the parent and the leached catalysts will provide the data to determine the role of the metallic gold and the ionic gold strongly bound to the support. The identification of the active species of gold and the role of the support in this work is anticipated to be extendable to other gold mixed oxide catalysts studied for this reaction.


John Ralston,Professor, Physics and Astronomy Non-Invasive Collider Beam Monitoring

A huge linear collider with construction costs in the tens of billions of dollars will be the next large particle accelerator. Crucial to the design and success of the machine is the ability to accurately determine the transverse structure of the particle beam. Existing methods of beam monitoring are crude, can be invasive, can disrupt the beam, and are surprisingly poor in performance. This proposal will investigate a new technology to monitor the transverse particle density of the beam. The underlying physics of the new approach exploits the symmetries and the highly relativistic circumstances inherent in the linear collider concept. Funds are requested for a graduate student to participate in documenting the potential of existing methods and compare them to the projected yields of the new method.

Susan M. Stagg-Williams Professor C&PE Novel Au Catalysts for the Preferential Oxidation of CO

The proposed project is to use diffuse reflectance fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and surface area measurements to determine the structure of the material after preparation and reaction. In addition we will study the material under different reaction conditions to assess the stability and feasibility of using this catalyst in a compact reactor for onboard generation of hydrogen


Dr. Trung Van Nguyen, Associate Professor C&PE Characterization of surface ionic activity of proton conducting membrane by conductive atomic force (CAFM)
Funding from the Energy Research Center will be used to explore the use of a new scanning probe microscopy technique and to obtain some experimental data on the surface ionic activity of a proton conducting membrane. The results will be used to strengthen a revised proposal being submitted to NSF.
Dr. Susan Williams Assistant Professor C&PE Determination of the Reaction Mechanism for Authothermal Reforming over Supported Pt Catalysis
The project is to use isotopically labeled reaction studies to determine the reaction mechanism of the combined steam and CO2 reforming of methane and partial oxidation reactions for syngas generation. The combination of these reactions (authothermal reforming) has the potential to make gas to liquids (GTL) technology a reality providing higher quality liquid transportation fuels from methane. Current barriers to GTL technology are found in the syngas generation step which is the most capital and energy intensive part of the production plant. Therefore, the economic viability of GTL technology depends on optimizing the process for syngas production. The funds will be used to establish a collaboration with Dr. Fabio Noronha and obtain preliminary data to support the submission of a future proposal.
Dr. K. David Newell, Assistant Scientist, Kansas Geological Survey Gas Content, Chemical Composition, and Isotopic Analyses of Eastern Kansas Coals and Organic – Rich Shales
Samples of coal and organic-rich shales will be collected in desorption canisters at a well site and over the subsequent months the volumes of gas these samples gives off will be measured for purpose of determining the coalbed gas resource available. The results of gas-content tests and compositional analysis.
Dr. Russell Ostermann, Associate Professor C&PE Nutrient Enhancement for Coal Pre-Treatment and Biogenic Methane Production from Coal and Carbon Dioxide Sequestered in Coalbeds
There are over 100 bioreactors operating using bacteria obtainend from a “live” coalbed core obtained by the Kansnas Geological Survey and consortia grown from sewage waste on coal samples. These funds will be used to employ a graduate student to study nutrient enhancement of coal pretreatment and methanogenesis of the pretreated coal, and bio-conversion of carbon dioxide to methan in coal bed conditions.
Dr. Susan Nissen, Assistant Scientist, Kansas Geological Survey Determination of the Applicability of Seismic Methods for Identifying Fractures in Eastern Kansas Coalbed Reservoirs
The project will use seismic modeling to determine the applicability of seismic techniques, such as AVO and multi-component seismic, for characterizing fractures in Kansas coalbed gas reservoirs. ERC funding will be used to obtain well logs providing information about density, compressional- and shear-wave velocities, and fracture intensity and orientation of the coals and surrounding rocks, which will be used as the input to the seismic models. The goals of this investigation will be (1) to determine whether or not individual coal beds in eastern Kansas are seismically detectible, (2) to determine the ability of seismic methods to identify the expected variations in fracture intensity of the coals, and (3) to determine if cleat orientation (and thus preferred directions of permeability) can be identified seismically. If modeling indicates that the seismic methods have the potential for successfully characterizing fractures in eastern Kansas coalbed gas reservoirs, a field-scale 3-D multicomponent seismic study would be proposed to test the model predictions


Susan M. Stagg-Williams, Associate Professor C&PE Photolithographic Patterning of Catalytic Membranes
The project will apply processing techniques currently used in the semiconductor industry to the fabrication of catalytic membrane materials. Success in development would greatly reduce the product variability in catalyst manufacturing by employing a highly reproducible technique. Dr. Stagg-Williams identified four possible future funding opportunities. Previous funding has led to the development of four proposals and a strong research collaboration with a researcher in a national laboratory.
Dr. Trung Van Nguyen, Assistant Professor C&PE Effect of Catalyst Support Particle Size on PEM Fuel Cell Performance
Funding from the Energy Research Center will be used to develop the catalyst particle size separation process and generate preliminary data on the effect of catalyst support particle size on the performance of PEM fuel cells. These results will then be used to apply for external financial support for this work from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. The Energy Research Center has provided three grants to the PI: the first grant for $6940 in 1997, which resulted in a three-year, $200,384 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and two major publications in refereed journals, the second grant in 1999 for $9,828 resulted in a three-year, $186,000 grant from the National Science Foundation
Dr. Andrew B. Whitford, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies Collaborative Research in Energy Policy: Grid Access
Dr. Whitford is a new faculty member. Funds will help start two integrated research projects on the state and determinants of grid access in a variety of political and economic institutional settings. The research initiated with these seed funds will help investigate the extent of and basis for grid access by alternative energy providers. This information will aid decision-makers, the alternative energy industry, and research communities.


Susan Stagg-Williams Hydrogen Production for Fuel Cell Applications Using a Combined Low Temperature Water Gas Shift and CO Selective Oxidation Reactor
Louis Burmeister Smart Materials for Concentrating Solar Collectors


Trung Van Nguyen Characterizing surface ionic activity on proton conducting membranes by scanning probe microscopy,
Galen Suppes Exploratory studies on calcium carbonate catalysis
Mario Medina Development of a research program in phase-change building materials (PCBM) for energy conservation and management


Trung Van Nguyen, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Reactant Gas Management for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells
Mario Medina, Architectural Engineering Department Development of a National Database of Energy Savings in Space Cooling and Heating Loads Produced by Radiant Barrier Technology
Galen J. Suppes, CP& E and Karen Nordheden, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Novel Catalysis Method
Brian A. Rock, Architectural Engineering Next-Generation Building Energy Systems Design Software  


Cynthia Larive and Joseph Heppert, Department of Chemistry Exploratory Research in the Analysis of Fluid Flow through Rock Core Samples  
Dr. Galen J. Suppes, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Fundamental Studies - Pour Point Depression of Fischer-Tropsch Fuels  
Galen J. Suppes, Russell D. Ostermann, and Clarence S. Buller, CP&E , and Microbiology Biological Routes to In-Situ Coal Gasification  

Judy Wu, Department of Physics and Astronomy

MOCVD Buffer Technologies for Coating High-Tc Superconductors on Metal Substrates  


Depositional and Paragenetic History of Arbuckle Strata in Kansas within a Sequence-Stratigraphic Framework: Isolating Controls on Reservoir Architecture

Utility of Ground-Penetrating Radar in Generating Detailed 3-D Images of Sandstone and Limestone Reservoir Analogs

Development of High Performance and Long Life PEM Fuel Cells

Obtaining Publishable Data on Alternative Fuel Blends and Cetane Improvers


Study of Depositional, Structural, and Diagentic Controls on Reservoir Characteristics of Arbuckle Strata in Kansas

Use of Potential Fields Data in Evaluating the Relationship Between Basement Structure, Stratigraphic Evolution, and Hydrocarbon Distribution in Kansas

Ignition Delay Time Analysis of Alternative Fuel Blends
Growth Mechanism of High Temperature Superconducting Films in MOCVD System

Last Modified August 2006