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ChemE students win AIChE national award

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Andrew Liang, Fei Chu and Alan Chen have won a national award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) for their student paper.
Andrew Liang, Fei Chu and Alan Chen have won a national award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) for their student paper.

May 04, 2010

Three chemical engineering seniors, Alan Chen, Fei Chu and Andrew Liang, have won a national award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) for their student paper entitled, “Lignocellulosic Fuels: Conversion of Switchgrass to Ethanol.”

AIChE’s Fuels and Petrochemicals Division sponsored the Harry West Student Paper Award 2010. The award was presented at the AIChE Spring National Meeting in San Antonio, TX, on March 22.

Chu flew to San Antonio to receive the award and the $1,000 check on behalf of her co-authors. “Andrew, Alan, and I were very excited and honored to win this award — we hope that our work will help contribute to the development of biofuel technology.”

Working with a process design software package, the students created a model plant that converted switchgrass, a perennial prairie grass, to ethanol. Their design included an unusual pressurized liquid hot water pretreatment to break down the lignocellulose and improve the conversion from cellulose to glucose.

The Fuels and Petrochemicals Division of AIChE created the Harry West Student Paper Award in memory of the many technical and professional contributions of the late Harry West. The award is presented annually to the undergraduate student members of AIChE and the Fuels and Petrochemicals Division who submit the best short paper on any subject relevant to fuels, petrochemicals or safety.

The three students wrote their paper for the Fall 2009 course, ChemE160 Chemical Process Design, taught by professor Harvey Blanch and lecturer Carlo Alesandrini. The trio submitted their paper early in 2010.