Western Kentucky University

Institute for Combustion Science

Thermal Laboratory


Established in 1986, the Thermal Analysis Laboratory at Western Kentucky University has had a few homes—it was originally located on the main campus, but then moved to the South Campus after outgrowing the original lab. By August 2006, the lab had once again outgrown its current space and was relocated to a new facility within Western Kentucky University's Center for Research and Development that had been designed during the remodel to be a thermal analysis laboratory. The new Thermal Analysis Laboratory is more spacious (around 1700 square feet) and offers one of the most well-equipped thermal analysis laboratories in the United States. As a result of this, the Thermal Lab has developed into an internationally recognized facility. This facility is used for numerous purposes, including as an instructional lab for physical and materials chemistry courses, a research center for graduate students, and has provided analytical services to over 300 companies, universities, and agencies in 30 different states. The lab has tested and provided analytical results for a wide range of materials, from meat to explosives, but the majority of the work has been on polymers and coatings. Revenue brought into the laboratory by this service work is used for students' salaries and maintenance expenses for the equipment. The Thermal Lab has provided part-time employment to thirty undergraduate students and forty-five M.S. and Ph.D. students.
The transition from an academic laboratory setting to an industrial research setting can be difficult. A large number of students enter industry after obtaining degrees and working in the lab, and the project-based curricula of the lab involving partnerships with universities and industry eases the transition and increases the probability of our young professionals' success. By partnering with local industries, we are able to participate in challenging research projects that are associated with cutting edge technology. Likewise, through partnerships, industries gain fresh ideas while educating a new employee pool. The mission of the Thermal Analysis Laboratory at Western Kentucky University is to work alongside governmental, industrial research and production laboratories.
Cooperation with governmental organizations has included collaborations with the United States Air Force Research Laboratory, the United States Navy—Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and NASA. The research with the United States Air Force involved the determination of the thermal stability of organically modified layered silicates (OLS) and also a mapping of the thermal decomposition kinetics of these materials. The Thermal Lab used evolved gas analysis to identify combustion products of materials that were to be used on submarines to determine what potential hazards these materials may pose. The work with NASA focused on the modification of single-wall carbon nanotubes to enhance dispersion and degradation studies of the modified nanotubes.
In addition to thermal analysis, the lab also performs surface characterization, chemical analysis and bio-fuel characterization. The surface characterization techniques include X-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The chemical analysis includes elemental analysis, bomb calorimetry, and pyroprobe-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The bio-fuel characterization includes: thermal stability, oxidation resistance, low temperature properties, elemental analysis, glycerin content and compositional analysis.
Over the past 27 years, the thermal analysis group has presented over 80 papers at the North American Thermal Analysis Society (NATAS) annual conferences. The Thermal Lab organizes a thermal analysis short course every year focused on TGA and DSC. The Thermal Lab has organized other thermal analysis symposia, including the 2nd International Symposium on Micro-Thermal Analysis at WKU. The Symposium featured talks by invited speakers, poster presentations by WKU students, and attracted participants from all around the world.



Thermogravimetric Analysis
High-Resolution/Modulated Thermogravimetric Analysis
High-Pressure Thermogravimetric Analysis
Sorption Analysis
Differential Scanning Calorimetry
Modulated Differential Scanning Calorimetry
High-Pressure Differential Scanning Calorimetry
Simultaneous Differential Scanning Calorimetry-Thermogravimetric Analysis
Evolved Gas Analysis (TG-FTIR, TG-MS, and TG-FTIR-MS)
Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry
Pyroprobe-GC/MS System
Dynamic Mechanical Analysis
Thermomechanical Analysis
Dielectric Analysis
Micro-Thermal Analysis
Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy
Optical Microscopy
X-Ray Diffraction



Formulation and optimization
Materials selection
Contaminant identification
Application development
End-use performance prediction
Competitive product evaluation
Vendor certification
Incoming/outgoing materials consistency
Process optimization
Finished product performance


Selected Publications:

Behl, M.; Yeom, J.; Lineberry, Q.; Jain, P. K.; Shannon, M. A. A regenerable oxide-based H2S adsorbent with nanofibrous morphology. Nature Nanotech. 2012, 7(12), 810-815.

Zhao, H.-Y.; Cao, Y.; Sit, S. P.; Lineberry, Q.; Pan, W.-P. Thermal Characteristics of Bitumen Pyrolysis. J. Therm. Anal. Calorim. 2012, 107(2), 541-547.

Zhao, H.-Y.; Cao, Y.; Lineberry, Q.; Pan, W.-P. Evaluation of CO2 adsorption capacity of solid sorbents. J. Therm. Anal. Calorim. 2011, 106(1), 199-205.
Ghose, S.; Watson, K. A.; Cano, R. J.; Britton, S. M.; Jensen, B. J.; Connell, J. W.; Herring, H. M.; Lineberry, Q. J. High temperature VARTM of phenylethynyl terminated imides. High Perform. Polym. 2009, 21(5), 653-672.

Lineberry, Q.; Cao, Y.; Lin, Y.; Ghose, S.; Connell, J. W.; Pan, W.-P. Mercury Capture from Flue Gas Using Palladium Nanoparticle-Decorated Substrates as Injected Sorbent. Energy Fuels. 2009, 23 (3), 1512-1517.

Latta, G.; Lineberry, Q.; Ozao, R.; Zhao, H.-Y.; Pan, W.-P. Thermal properties of ethylene octene copolymer (Engage)/dimethyldioctadecyl quaternary ammonium chloride-modified montmorillonite clay nanocomposites. J. Mater. Sci. 2008, 43(8), 2555-2561.

Lineberry, Q.; Buthelezi, T.; Pan, W.-P. Characterization of Modified Carbon Nanotubes by TG-MS and Pyrolysis-GC/MS. JAI. 2006, 3(9).

Whitely, N.; Ozao, R.; Artiaga, R.; Cao, Y.; Pan, W.-P. Multi-utilization of Chicken Litter as Biomass Source – Part I. Combustion. Energy Fuels, 2006, 20, 2660-2665.

Whitely, N.; Ozao, R.; Cao, Y.; Pan, W.-P. Multi-utlization of Chicken Litter as Biomass Source – Part II. Pyrolysis. Energy Fuels, 2006, 20, 2666-2671.

Xie, W.; Xie, R.; Pan, W.-P.; Hunter, D.; Koene, B.; Tan, L.-S.; Vaia, R. Thermal Stability of Quaternary Phosphonium Modified Montmorillonites. Chem. Mater. 2002, 14(11) 4837-4845. (203 citations)

Xie, W.; Gao, Z.; Pan, W.-P.; Hunter, D.; Vaia, R. Thermal Degradation Chemistry of Alkyl Quaternary Ammonium Montmorillonite. Chem. Mater. 2001, 13(9) 2979-2990. (586 citations)




Therm lab









Therm lab

 Last Modified 7/28/13