Established in 1987, the Thermal Analysis Laboratory at Western Kentucky University, which was previously located at the South Campus, was moved to Western Kentucky University’s Center for Research and Development in August, 2006. The new Thermal Laboratory is more spacious (around 1700 square feet) and offers one of the best, if not the best, equipped thermal 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: an instructional lab for physical and materials chemistry courses, a research center 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 over 3,000 samples, 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 solubility and degradation studies of the modified nanotubes.
Recently, surface characterization, chemical analysis and bio-fuel characterization capabilities were also added into the Thermal Lab. The surface characterization techniques include X-ray diffractometry, atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, as well as surface area and pore volume analysis. The chemical analysis includes elemental analysis, bomb calorimetery, 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 21 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. The Thermal Analysis Laboratory also hosted the 2006 NATAS Conference in Bowling Green, Kentucky. More than 200 thermal analysts attended this conference. The Thermal Analysis Laboratory has managed the North American Thermal Analysis Society since 2005.
High-Resolution/Modulated Thermogravimetric Analysis
High-Pressure Thermogravimetric Analysis
Modulated and High-Pressure Differential Scanning Calorimetry
Evolved Gas Analysis (TG-FTIR and TG-MS)
Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry
Dynamic Mechanical Analysis
Optical Microscope/Image Analysis System
Formulation and optimization
End-use performance prediction
Competitive product evaluation
Theoretical research on new materials and process
Incoming/outgoing materials consistency
Finished product performance
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.
Pan, W.-P.; Judovits, L. “Techniques in Thermal Analysis Hyphenated Techniques, Thermal Analysis of the Surface, and Fast Rate Analysis,” Editor, 134pp, ASTM, STP 1466, West Conshohocken, PA, 2007.
Zhang, Y.; Cui, H.; Ozao, R.; Cao, Y.; Chen, B.; Wang, C.-W.; Pan, W.-P. Characterization of Activated carbon Prepared from Chicken Waste and Coal. Energy Fuels. 2007, 21(6), 3735-3739.
Ozao, R.; Nishimoto, Y.; Pan, W.-P.; Okabe, T. Thermoanalytical Characterization of Carbon/carbon Hybrid Material, Apple Woodceramics. Thermochim. Acta, 2006, 440, 75-80.
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.