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EPSRC fellowship for Antonio del Rio-Chanona

last modified Jun 08, 2017 11:35 AM

Antonio del Rio-Chanona has just completed his PhD (May, 2017) and has been awarded an EPSRC fellowship at Imperial College London. He was a member of the Process Systems Engineering Group here, supervised by Dr Vassilios Vassiliadis.

He received the EPSRC research fellowship to conduct independent research at the Centre for Process Systems Engineering (CPSE) at Imperial College London. His research aims to help in the industrialisation of excretable biofuels through advanced bioprocess modelling and optimisation strategies. He will be closely collaborating with Dr. Benoit Chachuat and Professor Klaus Hellgardt.

Sustainable biofuels can be produced by microorganisms, in particular, microalgae and cyanobacteria. For traditional algal biofuel production (biodiesel), the biofuel precursor such as biolipid is accumulated inside algae cells. Hence, after the algae cultivating process, there is a very costly extraction and separation process, where the cells are crushed to release the fuel precursor, and then the separation process is also expensive given the underlying mixture produced. As a consequence, biofuels are still economically inviable. Furthermore, in the case of excretable biofuels, microalgae excrete the fuel as they produce it, hence there is no extraction/crushing stage, and the separation procedure is much less energy intensive.

Antonio said, "Given that excretable biofuels have been very recently proposed as promising transportation fuel candidates,  I intend to apply computational modelling and optimisation strategies, while closely working with experimental collaborators, to find the optimal production conditions for this process, and hence evaluate if excretable biofuels are the path towards sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation fuels."