The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) PhD students Chong Yen Yee and Tiong Yong Wei were awarded best oral presenters at the 9th Regional Chemical Engineering Conference on Chemical Engineering, for their presentations on their research on producing fuel from bio-oil and bio waste respectively, held in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Both Chong and Tiong presented their research papers entitled “Emulsification of Bio-oil and Diesel” and “Conversion of oil palm biomass to ethyl levulinate via ionic liquids” respectively to attendees at the conference who comprised industry professionals, researchers and academia from the chemical engineering field from various Southeast Asian countries.
Biofuel from palm waste research
Chong’s research interest includes making bio-oil, a promising candidate in bio-fuel from palm waste as a means of reducing the use of fossil fuels. As of now, bio-oil is not suitable to be used as fuel directly. In her research, emulsification of the bio-oil was carried out to enhance the quality of oil, with the aim to use bio-oil directly as a suitable fuel. Emulsification involves the blending of the immiscible bio-oil with diesel into a homogeneous state. This project was funded from the Research Strategy Committee at UNMC in collaboration with Dr Poo Balan Ganesan from Universiti Malaya, under the supervision of Dr Suchithra Thangalazhy-Gopakumar from UNMC.
According to Chong Yen Yee: “The dependency on fossil fuel, especially on liquid fuel has been increasing and the fact that fossil fuel is depleting is very alarming. These are questions which I wanted to address in my research study. The study on finding a potential substitute for liquid fuel is very important and though it was nerve-wracking to present in the conference, I did my best and was surprised when my name was called out to receive the award. I am truly humbled and offer my sincere gratitude to my supervisor, and other co-supervisors for their support. Last but not least, all glory to God in the highest.”
From oil palm biomass to biofuel
Tiong’s research is about using the abundant oil palm biomass to produce a value-added chemical product, known as ethyl levulinate. Ethyl levulinate is a viable bio-derived diesel fuel for diesel engines, which could act as an alternative for petroleum fuel. The main criteria of this research is to use an environmentally benign processes. In her preliminary study, the promising ionic liquids exhibited the potential of converting the oil palm biomass into ethyl levulinate, as biofuel. The project was funded by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), Malaysia, under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS), and was supervised by Dr Yap Chiew Lin from UNMC.
Tiong Yong Wei said: “We have limited fossil resources and this posed a great challenge to process renewable biomass feedstocks into fuels. My research provides an environmental friendly method combined with economically viable technologies for the production of bio-derived diesel fuel as alternative fuel options in the transportation sector.”
“This was my very first conference and to be honest, I have never thought of winning any award. I was overwhelmed with number of questions during the Q&A session and I managed to handle the questions well,” Tiong said.
The 9th Regional Conference on Chemical Engineering (RCChE 2016) is an annual convention for members of ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (AUN/SEED-Net) to showcase current research and technology developments in chemical engineering and related fields. The Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), in collaboration with the Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT) hosted the RCChE 2016.
(Article image caption: (from left to right) Tiong Yong Wei and Chong Yen Yee)
(Thumbnail image caption: Best oral presenter certificates)
More information is available from Chong Yen Yee on firstname.lastname@example.org, Tiong Yong Wei on email@example.com or Josephine Dionisappu, PR & Communications Manager on +6 (03) 8924 8746 , firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Posted on 6th December 2016