On September 12th, we hosted our first Undergraduate Research Expo. Eleven students from Tufts, MIT and Harvard held short Ted-Talk style presentations on a topic of their choice. Here is the profile of presenter Isabel Plana:
Isabel Plana is a junior at MIT studying chemical engineering with a focus on oil and energy. Isabel has taken on several major research projects, most recently at IMDEA Energy Institute in Madrid, Spain. Unfortunately, Isabel could not make it to the actual event, but sent us information on the topic she intended to discuss.
Isabel planned to present on the development of novel catalytic systems for the production of 2nd generation bio-fuels by deoxygenation of lignoellulosic biomass processes. She described that the future scarcity of fossil fuels, as well as environmental considerations highlight the need for alternative fuels. While first generation biofuels are not a viable option because they compete with sources of food and promote deforestation, second generation fuels derived from lignocellulosic biomasses are a suitable alternative. To accomplish this, the research she was conducting aimed to develop catalysts in order to upgrade lignocellulosic biomasses to second-generation bio-oils through catalytic hydrodeoxyenation (HDO).