2 biomass projects make appearance at White House science fair

By Chris Hanson | May 02, 2013

A biomass mini-press and an algae production project were featured at the 2013 White House Science Fair in Washington, D.C.

The biomass press is the product of 16-year-olds Jon Kubricki and Bridget Zarych from Little Egg Harbor, N.J. The device utilizes biomass waste products, such as food waste, pressing them into a wood-alternative fuel source for cooking.

Sara Volz, a 17-year-old from Colorado Springs, Co., showcased a new method that can increase microalgae oil yields for biofuel production. In an interview with Cristin Dorgelo, assistant director for Grand Challenges at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Volz described how she utilized herbicides to eliminate less productive cells and promote growth of more effective algae.

Both projects were recognized by President Barack Obama. “We’ve got Jon Kubricki and Bridget Zarych, who, together with their classmates, designed an inexpensive press that can recycle garbage, like banana peels, into briquettes as an alternative to using wood for fuel,” Obama said. He added the project could potentially help to reduce carbon emissions, save trees from deforestation and reduce instances of smoke inhalation. “Sara is breeding new types of algae, “he added.  “She stores this in a lab in her bedroom. So Sara, you have very supportive parents.”

“Young people like these, every one of them have these kinds of incredible innovations,” Obama said. “But young people like these have to make you hopeful about the future of our country. And it’s also a reminder for us, the adults—we’ve got to do our part.”

The science fair featured 100 students from more than 40 states and is part of the President’s Educate to Innovate campaign that inspires girls and boys to excel in science, technology, engineering and math.