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HSI-STEM Research Published by ACS

Dr. Elmer LedesmaEnergy and fuels are the main driving forces behind industrial and economic development according to a research paper by Dr. Elmer Ledesma, assistant professor of chemistry at University of St. Thomas. His paper “Vapor-Phase Cracking of Eugenol: Distribution of Tar Products as Functions of Temperature and Residence Time” was recently published in “Energy & Fuels,” a scholarly journal published by the American Chemical Society. 

“The rapid increase in population and the expanding economies in the developing nations of Asia, Latin America and Africa, together with the large energy consumption of the industrialized world, give rise to a dramatic increase in the demand for energy and fuels,” the paper reads. “Fossil fuels have provided the largest and most accessible source for such a purpose. However, with the decline in fossil fuel reserves and the ever increasing demand for energy and fuels, the development of alternative routes for energy and fuels production is an active area of research.”

“Energy & Fuels” is a peer-reviewed, internationally-recognized, high-impact journal in the energy and fuels field. The research was a collaborative effort by undergraduate research students from UST and Houston Community College Central Campus. 

The work was made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s STEM and CCRAA grants. This grant was awarded to Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

His research, Ledesma said, strongly depends on the efforts of undergraduate research students who are primarily responsible for conducting experiments and analyzing results. He works with three undergraduate research students: Elizabeth Dixon, a junior chemistry major, Valeria Hernandez, a junior chemistry major and Charlie Thai, a freshman in biochemistry major.

Ledesma said his expertise and focus in this field is on the combustion and pyrolysis of fuels such as fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas and oil, and renewable fuels like biomass. He uses a multi-faceted approach: experiment, simulation and theory.

He conducts his experiments using a bench-scale continuous flow-reactor to obtain empirical data. He also performs simulations using detailed mathematical models to model the physics governing the combustion and pyrolysis processes. His experiments then allow him to execute theoretical calculations to gain fundamental, molecular-level insight on chemical reactions.

The journal article was also recently selected as being of special interest to the energy sector by Renewable Energy Global Innovations, a Canadian-based company which alerts the scientific community with breaking news about the latest scientific discoveries in renewable energy technologies.

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