Wang receives Texas A&M Dissertation Fellowship

Baixin Chu picBaixin Wang, graduate student in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, was selected to receive a Texas A&M University Dissertation Fellowship for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Wang currently works with Dr. Kung-Hui Chu, associate professor in the department. Together, they search for a method to reduce the cost of the production of biodiesel.  If the cost of biodiesel becomes lower than fossil fuel in the future, there will be no reason against this renewable, clean and non-toxic fuel.

Wang’s research focuses on a carbon-neutral and low-cost extraction approach to produce bacterial lipids (natural fats) used as a source for a greener, renewable fuel- biodiesel.

“The easiest way to explain the process is to compare the process to Hansel and Gretel,” Chu said. “We have these bacteria, fatten them up with growth accelerants, and use them as fuel.”

Since lipids and fats are the raw materials of biodiesel that can be derived from animals, plants, and oleaginous microorganisms, biodiesel is thus considered as a renewable fuel.  Also, since the raw materials all rely on carbon dioxide to grow, the use of biodiesel recycles what was already there.

Biodiesel is a promising alternative to petroleum-derived diesel fuel because it is a renewable, nontoxic liquid fuel that generates much less greenhouse gas emissions. The use of fossil fuels is releasing carbon that has been stored underground for millions of years.  So, use of biodiesel can help prevent global warming.  However, the cost for biodiesel production is still not competitive to that of fossil fuel.

“More people should focus on this sort of research,” said Wang. “It’s good for everyone and the environment, and it’s sustainable.”

Wang moved from Jilin, China in 2009, after obtaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tongji University in Shanghai. He plans to continue academic work in the area of bioenergy production, bioremediation of persistent contaminants. Wang seeks a career in education as a faculty member or a researcher after graduation

The Dissertation Fellowship, through the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, offers $1,500 per month for tuition and fees, and an additional reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses like health insurance.