(UG1) Massachusetts Climate Resilience Policy, Planning, and the Needs of People with Disabilities: Paths to Improvement

People With Disabilities (PWDs) face a four-fold higher risk of death from climate emergencies, yet largely lack any meaningful inclusion in municipal climate vulnerability planning. This project maps out a strategy to increase PWD inclusion in a Massachusetts government agency, the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program providing municipalities with climate resilience technical assistance, funding, and guidelines, currently undergoing a 5-year update. Over 95% of Massachusetts’s municipalities participate in this program, so changes to this one entity are disseminated throughout the state. While this project was in its intermediate stage, sharing this project’s early findings and resources led to strong interest being expressed in increasing PWD inclusion by an MVP program official.

(GR3) Hydrothermal liquefaction of solvent-fractionated lignin for aromatic monomer production

Lignin is a natural aromatic biomacromolecule that exists as the second most abundant polymer. Its phenolic structure makes it a potential renewable source for organic compounds, especially those containing electron rich aromatic rings. However, valorizing lignin has presented a huge challenge owing to its recalcitrant nature. Co-solvent enhanced lignocellulosic fractionation (CELF) is an advanced biomass pretreatment technique that gives us a clean lignin byproduct. Depolymerizing CELF lignin via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), which is a green wet-based thermochemical conversion technique, produces aromatic hydrocarbon-rich biocrude or phenolic monomer chemicals. Hardwood derived CELF lignin yields approximately 52wt% of biocrude with valuable monomers like guaiacol, syringol, creosol, butylated hydroxytoluene, etc. Further processing and upgrading of biocrude could lead to production of usable biofuels.

(GR4) The Path Towards Fossil Fuel Disruption: Predicting Biofuel Costs with a Single Experiment and Thirty Seconds

Our current response to climate change has been through broad-spectrum electrification, as seen in electric vehicles, through the use of energy storage technology. However, to enable the long-distance travel required for freighting and aviation, the energy density of hydrocarbon fuels have yet to be beaten. We can leverage organic wet wastes to produce renewable, low carbon intensity biofuels using hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL).

(GR5) Machine Learning for Materials Informatics

MXenes are a hot topic in materials science research because of their expected unique properties and myriad applications, such as more efficient energy conversion in batteries and solar cells, environmental and water treatment, and many additional applications. This project aims to produce Machine Learning (ML) models that accurately predict certain MXene properties – like electrical conductivity, work function, carrier density, mobility, life-time, and sensitivity to disorder – based on standard elemental information (e.g., electronegativity of each constituent element of the MXene, atomic mass of a MXene molecule, etc.), with training data found from literature as well as data produced by our project’s Density Functional Theory (DFT) team.

(UG2) A Cantilevered Piezoelectric Energy Harvester Driven by Vortex-Induced Vibrations on a Cylinder in Water

This Major Qualifying Project (MQP) team of seniors in Mechanical Engineering designed, built, and tested a renewable energy harvester from the flow of water through a river. This system converted the vortex-induced vibrations (VIV) of a cylinder into the bending of two cantilevers with two piezoelectric transducers attached to their fixed ends. The cantilever was designed so its natural frequency matches the vortex shedding frequency of the cylinder in a given water flow. The alternating current (AC) from the transducers was then converted into a direct current (DC) using a rectifying circuit with a diode bridge and a filter capacitor as well as a voltage regulator. This functional system, which achieved a maximum electrical power of 3.14 μW, has the capability of powering low-power electronics including temperature sensors. This can be scaled to produce more power by increasing the size of the device, particularly the piezoelectric strips, by having multiple devices of this sort beside one another to compound the output power, or by increasing the natural frequency of the resonating system.

(GR7) Gravity-Driven Multiple Effect Thermal System (G-METS) Distillation for Efficient Low-Cost Magnesium Refining

The process of multiple effect distillation for the recycling of magnesium can both increase efficiency and reduce cost by up to 90% when compared to batch distillation refinement. This presentation will detail goals and applications of a novel continuous gravity-driven multiple effect thermal system (G-METS) distillation process for magnesium alloys.