CAER Engaged in Two Sustainability Challenge Grants


CAER Engaged in Two Sustainability Challenge Grants

Ten teams of University of Kentucky students, faculty and staff will begin work on sustainability projects next semester after being selected to receive Sustainability Challenge Grants totaling more than $200,000.  The UK Center for Applied Energy Research is involved in two of the ten teams.

The Sustainability Challenge Grant program is designed to engage multidisciplinary teams from the university community in the creation and implementation of ideas that will promote sustainability by simultaneously advancing economic vitality, ecological integrity and social equity.

“Now, perhaps more so than at any other time, it is critical to integrate the core principles of sustainability (economic prosperity balanced with environmental stewardship and community well-being) in the operations, education, research, and outreach of the University of Kentucky,” said Shane Tedder, UK sustainability officer.

This is the largest cohort of teams in the six year history of this program. You can learn about all of this year’s grants here. The two CAER projects are:

Sustainable Campus Electronics Recycling Program at the University of Kentucky

A primary limitation to effective recycling is our inability to separate materials. This is particularly true for electronic scrap, which often, when placed into a recycling bin will not be recycled at all. Rather, it will be pulled from the recycling stream and discarded as solid waste. This project aims to establish a sustainable electronics recycling program for UK students that is run by UK students. This project is the first of its kind to recover valuable and critical materials sustainably and ethically as part of a student lead hands on pilot process. The underserved campus community will be enlisted to gather unused personal electronic devices, such as old phones, tablets, power supplies, cables, etc. Recovery and sorting will be carried out as a service project by UK Mining Engineering students. Physical/chemical/metallurgical processing incorporating leaching, solvent extraction and electrowinning for metal recovery and purification will be carried out as laboratory design projects in Minerals Processing (MNG 301) and Sustainable Materials and Recycling Technologies (MNG 570) courses. At UK CAER, an educational pilot plant, incorporating these methods to process collected electronic scrap, will be designed, constructed and operated by students financially supported by the project, as well as student volunteers. All marketable metals (e.g. Au, Ag, Cu, etc.) recovered will be sold, the proceeds from which will be used to support and sustain the project into the future. The project story will be told via website where project metrics tracking the impact of the project by mass collected and recovered in addition to students trained will be shared. A summary report will be presented by students at a national conference.

Team Members: Joshua Werner: Department of Mining Engineering/Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing, Jack Groppo: Department of Mining Engineering/Center for Applied Energy Research, ​UK Student Chapter, Society of Mining, Metallurgy, & Exploration, UK Center for Applied Energy Research


Research Innovators in Sustainable Energy (RISE)

This project will support a number of students – both graduate and undergraduate – in their path to become research innovators in sustainable energy. As such, this project is of high relevance to sustainability. Indeed, among the issues facing humankind, developing CO2-neutral sustainable sources of energy represents a key issue. Our goal is to help address the critical need for a skilled workforce equipped to meet this challenge by implementing a training program for research innovators in sustainable energy. This training program will have two main components: 1) the involvement of students in research projects focused on sustainable energy; and 2) their participation in coursework designed to instill the transferrable skills innovators need to succeed. To this end, in addition to the participating graduate and undergraduate students, this project will involve faculty and staff from several units within UK, as well as partners to support sustainability efforts in Kentucky and beyond. Measurable outcomes will include tangible research products in the form of publications and presentations, the participation of trainees in sustainability outreach and education efforts, as well as a group of young innovators equipped to tackle sustainability challenges.

Team Members: Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez: Center for Applied Energy Research & Department of Chemistry, Czarena Crofcheck: Lewis Honors College & Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Fara Williams: Kentucky-West Virginia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Bessie Guerrant: Office of Undergraduate Research, Niamh Minion​: Education Abroad & Exchanges




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