Institute for Combustion Science
Dr. Wei-Ping Pan
Sumpter Professor of Chemistry
Western Kentucky University
Over the last sixteen years, Dr. Wei-Ping Pan has established three prominent laboratories in the Department of Chemistry at Western Kentucky University. The Thermal Analysis Laboratory is one of the best, if not the best, equipped thermal analysis laboratories in the United States. Since 1987 there have been many research projects conducted in this laboratory, including several federal and industrially related projects. For example, in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory at WPAFB, Southern Clay Products, Inc., and Triton Systems, Inc., Dr. Pan's research team is studying the thermal stability, degradation mechanisms, and the properties of a specific polymer made from originally modified layered silicate nanocomposites. The goal of this project is to produce materials with properties suitable for cryogenic tanks for the aerospace industry.
The Combustion Laboratory, which was established in 1992, focuses on the behavior of chlorine, sulfur, and mercury during combustion. Since the construction of the 0.1MWth Laboratory scale Fluidized-Bed Combustion (FBC system) in 1995, over half a million dollars in research funding has been received from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute, the Illinois Clean Coal Institute, and TVA. This FBC system has been involved in over 7000 hours of testing. This amount of testing time is the longest time that has been conducted by any University FBC system in the United States.
The Emission & Control Laboratory was established in 2002 after a Mobile Monitoring Laboratory was constructed. All three laboratories mentioned above were recognized in the Materials Characterization Center. The Thermal Analysis, Combustion, and Emissions & Control Laboratories are growing and evolving as we strive to maintain excellence in our programs and create a hands-on learning environment for our science students. In light of this growth and the changing needs of both our educational and economic climates, on March 1, 2004, these three laboratories officially changed in the organization of the Applied Research & Technology Program (ARTP) centers to form the newly created Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology (ICSET). Thanks to the ARTP's financial support for the past several years, we have been able to increase the effectiveness and outreach of these laboratories. The new Institute is still an integral part of the ARTP program but is no longer dependent upon ARTP funding for daily operations.
The mission for this institute is:
• To provide the best educational experiences for WKU students, including opportunities to use state-of-the-art instrumentation in course work and research.
• To provide multidisciplinary approaches to solve industrial problems and for research projects.
• To promote professional growth of faculty by providing avenues for collaboration with professors at WKU and other institutions and with professionals in industrial, state, and federal research institutions.
• To provide professional contacts for WKU professors in search of funding for research projects.
The distinctiveness and impact of this institute is:
• According to several officers of the North American Thermal Analysis Society, the Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology (ICSET) has the best-equipped Thermal Analysis Laboratory in the U.S.--possibly the world.
• The ICSET combustion laboratory has ten years research experience with fossil fuel combustion including high sulfur, high chlorine coals, MSW (RDF) and other fuels.
• The ICSET is an academic and industrial research and development facility located in an academic institution.
• All ICSET labs are multifunctional facilities used for teaching, research, and service work.
• All ICSET graduates have co-authored one or more papers, made one or more presentations at professional meetings, have instructed lab sessions, and have worked on several industrial research projects. In other words, the ICSET graduates are well-trained and experienced professionals.
• ICSET has had over 200 industrial clients in the 2000-2004 period. Many of these clients have visited the Institute to discuss projects.
• There have been over 70 graduates (Ph. D., M.S. and B.S.) who were employed as students in the labs of ICSET. After graduation, 45% of these students entered graduate and professional degree programs. The other graduates were all professionally employed within two months of graduation.
• The ICSET Combustion Laboratory has operated its multifunctional fluidized-bed combustion (FBC) system nearly 8,000 hours, including seven runs with 1,000 hours of continuous operation. This 12-inch combustion system has seen more hours of operation than any university FBC system in the U.S.
Students, Staff, faculty and visiting scholars from many countries will continue to staff the advanced laboratories of this institute utilizing sophisticated and cutting-edge instrumentation that in turn provides the most relevant training experience.
The Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology is pleased to announce the renovation and construction of two new laboratory facilities, totaling over 38,000 square feet to be located in the former Bowling Green Mall on Nashville Road. The Combustion Laboratory and the Emissions & Control Laboratory will be housed in a 13,500 square foot facility that includes fuel preparation and analysis equipment, as well as the newest circulating fluidized bed combustion systems (CFBC). The expected completion date for the renovation is the beginning of 2005 and the expected completion date for CFBC construction is the summer of 2005.
Hand-in-hand with the construction of the Combustion Laboratory will be the construction of a substantially expanded Thermal Analysis Laboratory (ICSET) and Coal and Fuel Laboratory (Materials Characterization Center). Presently these laboratories, housed at Western’s South Campus, have outgrown their space. Consisting of 24,500 square feet, the new facility will increase the capability of services offered to many industries, both regional and national, that require accurate and fast analysis for manufacturing, quality control, and public health purposes.