Dan Adkins

UK Doctoral Student Assists Ford with Emissions Research

Published: May 31, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 31, 2010) − Vence Easterling is mixing it up with the big boys.

A University of Kentucky chemical engineering Ph.D. candidate, Easterling has spent nearly two years performing research with Ford Motor Co. scientists seeking new, more efficient ways to cleanse vehicle emissions.

Their focus at the moment is on a catalytic converter system that combines two existing approaches to not only eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions but also help to lower emissions of carbon dioxide.

“It could be one of the most significant advances in emission control technology since the catalytic converter was introduced in the 1970s,” says Easterling, who uses a sophisticated mass spectrometer to probe the chemistry occurring in the converter system.

Easterling and his mentors at Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Mich., are building on a system already in limited use in some cars in Europe and Japan.

They also are in direct competition with other U.S. vehicle manufacturers engaged in similar research.

"A lot of research groups are going after this. It's a matter of who gets there first," Easterling says.

His faculty mentor at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research, Mark Crocker, says a key goal in cleaning vehicle exhaust involves eliminating nitrogen oxides (NOx) from lean-burn gasoline and diesel engines. These engines are able to use fuel more efficiently than conventional gasoline engines and hence emit lower amounts of carbon dioxide.

"The problem is getting rid of the nitrogen oxides and unburned hydrocarbons," Crocker says.

Researchers already have developed a "lean nitrogen oxide trap" (LNT) catalytic converter that traps NOx temporarily and then splits the nitrogen's bond with oxygen, freeing both into the atmosphere. Since nitrogen already comprises most of the gases that make up air, it causes no harm.

However, this system contains expensive precious metals such as platinum.

Ford Research and Innovation Center scientists, including Mark Dearth, are investigating ways to combine the LNT system with a selective catalytic reduction catalyst (SCR) approach. (Easterling spends several weeks a year at the Dearborn center, as well as with researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The rest of his time is spent at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research with Crocker.)

"The SCR system is already in use on stationary power plants and farm equipment, as well as on a Ford pickup, to scrub emissions," Easterling says.

"What we're doing is using both the LNT and SCR systems. By combining the systems, Ford researchers have found that the amount of precious metals in the LNT catalyst can be decreased, resulting in cost savings for the overall system.

"We're also finding a synergistic effect of using both the LNT and SCR systems. They work better in conjunction than they do separately," Easterling says.

Dearth, the Ford Research and Innovation Center scientist who works directly with Easterling, says the mass spectrometer used in the project is highly precise. "It's a unique piece of equipment that offers its analysis second by second -- or even faster."

The new system they're studying is showing great promise for cleansing both NOx  and sulfur emissions, Dearth says. "Sulfur is a problem in any vehicle's exhaust. It's a poison to after-treatment systems," he says.

Dearth says he and Easterling had an almost instant bond when the doctoral candidate joined the project in 2006. "We came out of similar backgrounds. We both sought our advanced degrees after a number of years in the workforce."

Dearth got his doctorate when he was 35. Easterling returned to UK in 2006 after having graduated from UK in 1999 and spending several years working for AK Steel and U.S. Steel as a blast-furnace shift foreman.

This project, Easterling and Dearth agree, is far more interesting work.

"We're not reinventing the wheel. We're just making it roll a little better," says Easterling.

1-easterling-crocker.jpg1-Dearth.jpg
February
 
1
Graduate Student Congress Meeting (February)
Mon
2
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Tue
3
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Wed
4
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Thu
5
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Off-Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #1
Panel Discussion: Historic Homes
Fri
6
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sat
7
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
8
K Crew Recruitment
Sex and Chocolate
Law School Prep Workshop
Mon
9
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Healthy Relationships Workshop
How to Package Communication and Technical Skills on your Resume
2016 Distinguished Industry Lecture Series
Tue
10
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Last Day to Receive 50% Refund
Pinterest Party #1
Get Yourself Tested!
Off-Campus Student Association Information Session
Showcase your Talents: Building a Strong Portfolio
An Evening with Tatyana Ali and Amir Windom: Progression Towards Success
How to Survive a Plague
Wed
11
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Coffee & Canvases
Off-Campus Student Association Information Session
Study Abroad in Berlin!
Horticulture Club Valentine's Day Sale
Thu
12
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Horticulture Club Valentine's Day Sale
Ash and the Market: Ceramic Exchange, Political Economy, and the Late to Terminal Classic Transformation of the Kiuic Polity
Fri
13
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Learn to Play Bridge
Workshop: The Artist Statement
Sat
14
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
15
K Crew Recruitment
See ICT
Patterson School Guest Speaker Series
Mon
16
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
See ICT
UK Women's Forum February Board Meeting
Tue
17
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Food For Thought
Wed
18
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Soup & Substance: Real Talk, Real Issues, & Real People Series
Thu
19
PharmD Interviews
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Off-Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #2
SAB Underground Formal
Fri
20
PharmD Interviews
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sat
21
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
22
Undergraduate Research Information Session
University Health Service- Let It Go
Monday Night Mingle
Mon
23
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
University Health Service- Know Your Numbers
University Health Service- Mindful Eating
Tue
24
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Don't Blame It On Aging
Ravi Zacharias at Memorial Coliseum
Wed
25
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Thu
26
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference
Eday Talk by Georgetown Toyota President Wil James
Do What You Are: Connecting Personalities w/ Profession
Off- Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #3
Traditions and Transformations in Tz’utujil Territory, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, 500 BC – 1524 AD
Concert in the Museum: Central Music Academy
Fri
27
Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
UK E-Day
Pre-Opera Dinner
Sat
28
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
DanceBlue Rave Hour
Sun
29
Monday through Friday - Midterm Grading window is open. The mid-term grading window will close at midnight on March 11.
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
Bodies Of Evidence: Provocations: A Transnational Feminist History Project
Monday Night Mingle
Mon
 
 
 
 
 
Feb 13
Bill Adams: Blue Madness 02/13/2016

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Sun Apr 03 2016 .
Sun, 02/14/2016

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Mon Apr 04 2016 .
Sun, 02/14/2016

Mon, 02/15/2016

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Mon Apr 04 2016 .
Tue, 02/16/2016

Reset Page