Danielle Bartholet

Mentor: Dr. Bin Gao
College of Engineering
 
"Growing up in Florida, I have always been intrigued by wetlands, mangroves, aquifers and the environment as a whole. This interest led me to pursue an education and research that will allow me to further understand and protect water resources and ecosystems. After graduating with my bachelor's degree, I hope to pursue a PhD in a related field."

Major

Biological Engineering

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Water resources
  • Agriculture
  • Bioremediation

Academic Awards

  • John B. Boy US Sugar Corporation Scholarship
  • University Scholars Program 2016

Organizations

  • UF Navigators International
  • Student Honors Organization

Volunteer

N/A

Hobbies and Interests

N/A

Research Description

Optimization of the Production of Biochar Using Thermogravimetric Analysis
Biochar, the solid, carbonized biomass product of pyrolysis, can be used as a soil amendment in agricultural applications. When added to soils, biochar may introduce multiple benefits, such as reducing the necessary inputs of chemical fertilizers such as phosphate and nitrate; preventing leaching of these chemicals out of the soil and into groundwater; sequestering carbon in soils and improving soil quality. Producing biochar involves a pyrolysis process in which biomass is heated in the absence of oxygen. This process requires an input of energy. As biochar is currently being investigated for its many potential benefits, little research has been carried out on the ideal process, temperature, and duration of heating for its production. It is important to determine the minimum energy input (i.e., ideal conditions) for producing biochar from a particular source of biomass in order to save energy. This project investigates the optimization of biochar production. Using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) I will examine the relationship between heating time and conversion rate of slow and fast pyrolysis of various types of biomass at different peak temperatures. I will then be able to create a mathematical model for this relationship that will allow the producers to determine the ideal conditions for producing a given type of biochar. Optimization of this process will allow biochar to be produced more efficiently. This is especially important if biochar is to become a widely used soil amendment for large-scale applications.