Avery Brown (2nd year PhD student in Prof. Timko’s lab) finished in 3rd place in the student presentation competition at the New England Regional Meeting of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), held October 2015 in Rochester NY. In addition, Avery’s work was recognized by AIChE’s Forestry and Bioproducts Division travel award. Avery’s research on hydrothermal char, presented at both conferences, addresses the challenge of developing robust methods for characterizing the complex supramolecular structure of hydrothermal char, enabling the field to move beyond its present empirical nature.
Hydrothermal char is an efficient strategy for producing bio-material with applications ranging from catalysis and separations to agriculture and energy. Currently, hydrothermal char characterization uses a variety of techniques, including elemental analysis, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance and vibrational spectroscopy. Raman spectroscopy is as an affordable yet powerful technique for hydrothermal char characterization; however, interpretation of Raman spectra lacks a firm theoretical basis. Avery’s work combines theory and experiment to develop robust models for Raman spectra interpretation.