Teenager clears biofuel

Nieuws | de redactie
19 juni 2013 | Algae-based biofuels are among the most promising alternatives for fossil fuels. Sixteen year old Evie Sobczak made them even more sustainable by producing them without harmful chemicals. “I live in Florida, so we have a lot of algae problems, so I thought why not use something negative to help our world?”

As a born tinkerer, Evie Sobczak has joined science fairs all her life. When she was eleven years old she discovered that the acid in fruits could power clocks. Two years later she built her own wind turbine with rowing oars. And this year she started on a project that evolved into her passion. Sobczak wanted to grow algae and turn it into biofuel. She succeeded.

After four years of tinkering in her garage for about an hour each day, Sobczak created the winning project at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2013 in the category ‘Energy and Transportation’.

16-year-olds that change the world

“When I got there, I looked at all the projects and they were amazing, but I trusted that my project has a lot of capabilities to be used in the real world, so I thought I had a good chance of winning the ISEF science fair,” said Sobczak to the Tampa Bay Times. The ISEF science fair is the biggest and most prestigious in the world, last year Jack Andraka won with his sensor test for pancreatic cancer.

Evie Sobczak’s project is called ‘Algae to Oil via Photoautotrophic Cultivation and Osmotic Sonication’. Sobczak grew algae and extracted their oil to turn them into biofuel. This process leaves out chemicals, like chloroform and hexane, which are used in making biodiesel and other types of fuel. On top of that biofuels are one of the most promising sustainable alternatives for fossil fuels.

“I really believe algae could be our next fuel source because it doesn’t take a lot of land and it doesn’t take away from our food source. And if you use my processes, you don’t use any chemicals, so it’s not harming our environment. I live in Florida, so we have a lot of algae problems, so I thought why not use something negative to help our world?” The costs of producing algae-based biofuels are still high, but scientists are working on cheaper production processes. It is Sobczak’s dream to join these engineers as soon as possible.

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