דוקטורנטים מספרים - Siddaq Singh
Biofuels: A novel approach to creating clean energy
Supervisor: Prof. Alexander Golberg
My name is Siddaq Singh and I am completing my M.Sc. at the Porter School of Environment and Earth Sciences. I hold a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.B.A., so my academic background is interdisciplinary and yet closely linked to my current research. I come from Punjab, India where more than 65% of the population engages in agriculture. It is also a region that makes a major contribution to the central grain pool. This has created a huge dependence on fossil fuels, as well as huge social, economic, water, energy and environmental costs for the people of Punjab. The magnitude of these issues may vary, but they are shared worldwide, wherever there is mechanized industrial agriculture.
As humanity reaches greater heights of progress, we often take for granted the basic needs for our survival – water, food and shelter. All these are bound to a common denominator which is also the driver for our technological success – energy. We are still dependent on fossil-fuels that took millions of years to develop, and we are unable to put the true value on the work the Earth did for us. This heavy dependence causes us to forget that these reserves would not stay forever, and that fossil fuels are one of the major reasons for the offset in balance of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere, which is responsible for climate change.
Thus, we need to access energy from a source that is more sustainable. My research deals with developing biofuels from biomass using Hydrothermal Liquefaction, which just means using water, heat and pressure on a biomass to make biofuel. This technique mimics natural processes that occurred over a million years – we are just trying to replicate them in a few hours. There has been increased interest in this method in the past decade, but it has not reached commercial scale yet. I am fortunate that Prof. Alexander Golberg let me join his lab in the pilot stage of this project, which has given me an accelerated understanding of this field. We have developed a continuous hydrothermal treatment system and will be testing various types of biomass in it. Prof. Golderg and the members of his lab share the vision to drive this research to commercial use, and I wish to contribute to this transition in the future, which would require an interdisciplinary approach - technical, economic and policy-oriented.