Irish student wins silver in global research programme

7 Jun 2016

Lúc de Barra of Coláiste Raithín in Bray, who won second place in the world at INESPO 2016

A Wicklow student has placed second in an international tournament that sought development in sustainability and environmental issues.

Bray’s Lúc de Barra took silver at the 8th annual International Environment and Sustainability Project Olympiad (INESPO) for a project that looked into the use of pine needles in biofuel.

De Barra used a process called transesterification – compression and steam distillation – to extract the oil from the pine needles. From there, he showed how unsuitable Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) is for biodiesel.

However, in the process, he showed that other areas of bioenergy – aviation fuel, or fuel additives – could benefit from pine needles in future.

A student at Coláiste Raithín in Bray, de Barra won the SEAI-sponsored INESPO Award at the SciFest 2015 national final in November 2015. At the international final, he was up against 55 others.

“We are very proud of all the students that compete at SciFest and it is great so see winners such as Lúc develop their projects and go on to further successes,” said Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO.

“Lúc’s project is very important as society seeks to use other sources of energy besides fossil fuels. He has done himself, his family and Ireland proud today.”

The overall winners were Indian duo Kavya Aggarwal and Sarthak Sharma, with a project that looked at magnetic nanocomposites to remove dyes from textiles. Bronze went to Vasavi Sridhar and Aakriti Dhasmana for their look into storable fuel.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic