The Danckwerts-Pergamon Prize is awarded by the Department each year for the best PhD dissertation on a subject connected with Chemical Engineering. The winner is chosen from those students who gained their PhDs in the preceding calendar year.
Anna Stephenson is the winner of the Danckwerts-Pergamon Prize for 2010 for her work entitled, "The Sustainability of First- and Second-Generation Biofuels using Life Cycle Analysis", supervised by Dr John Dennis.
Anna completed her BA and MEng in Chemical Engineering at this department in June 2005, then, after a year working in London, returned to do her PhD with us.
Anna's research covered life-cycle studies of first and second-generation biofuels and practical experimental work on the expression of lipids in microalgae. The life-cycle studies involved a great deal of detailed investigation involving both literature research and numerous visits to companies and growers. One study was undertaken in South Africa, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cape Town. The level of detail in Anna's studies was excellent and the work has been published in refereed journals.
A second phase of Anna's research was to undertake growth studies on microalgae to study the rate of expression of lipid-like fuel molecules under conditions of stressed growth. This work has also been published.
A final element of her work was to work with Prof. Paul Dupree (Biochemistry) to understand the process-scale impact of his basic scientific research on manipulating the contents of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose in woody plants. The latter are an important starting point for so-called 2nd generation fuels, which involve hydrolysis of the wood to sugars, with fermentation of the latter to ethanol for fuel. This is an extraordinarily complicated area to make sense of, but Anna succeeded excellently, and her results are encapsulated in the last paper in the list below.
From this briefest of descriptions of her substantial work output, it will be apparent that she was an enthusiastic and effective researcher, with great interest in the work. She was a very careful and rigorous experimentalist and worked very long hours in the laboratory in pursuit of reliable experimental results.
She current works in the Strategy and Evidence Group of the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London.
Papers Published Arising Directly from PhD Research:
STEPHENSON, A.L., DENNIS, J.S. & SCOTT, S.A. (2008). Improving the sustainability of the production of biodiesel from oilseed rape in the UK. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 86, 427-440.
STEPHENSON, A.L., VON BLOTTNITZ, H., BRENT, A.C., DENNIS, J.S. & SCOTT, S.A. (2010). Global warming potential and fossil-energy requirements of biodiesel production scenarios in South Africa. Energy & Fuels, 24, 2489-2499.
STEPHENSON, A.L., KAZAMIA, E., DENNIS, J.S., HOWE, C.J., SCOTT, S.A. & SMITH, A. (2010). Life cycle assessment of potential algal biodiesel production in the United Kingdom: a comparison of raceways and air-lift tubular reactors. Energy & Fuels, 24, 4062-4077.
STEPHENSON, A.L., DENNIS, J.S., HOWE, C.J., SCOTT, S.A. & SMITH, A. (2010). Influence of the nitrogen-limitation regime on the production by Chlorella vulgaris of lipid for biodiesel feedstocks. Biofuels, 1, 47-58.
STEPHENSON, A.L., DUPREE, P., SCOTT, S.A. & DENNIS, J.S. (2010). The environmental and economic sustainability of potential bioethanol from willow in the UK. Bioresource Technology, 101, 9612-9623.