University of Utah engineering students Ahmed Elnashar, Mahmoud Elmehlawy, and Victor Leao-David wanted to create a safer, greener, and more efficient chemical industry. They chose to focus on ethanol, a sustainable fuel produced from corn, and sought to decrease the energy required to distill it from water. With the support of the university’s engineering department, they have modeled their process of fuel production to conduct ethanol distillations on a lab scale.
Based on initial estimations, their research can reduce fuel consumption by 30%, which might lead to cut down the annual carbon dioxide emissions by 50,000 metric tons. The trio is working to develop their startup, Azeotrop, which aims to implement their technology within the energy sector on a global scale.
Elnashar and Elmehlawy see the impact of their research as two-fold within its environmental aspirations and the savings it will provide to fuel production companies. Their shared vision was brought together by their complementary skill-sets with Elmehlawy executing computations and Elnashar conducting distillations in the lab.
When they felt ready to use their patent-pending technology to create a startup, their team was joined by fellow student Leao-David. Currently, they are working to optimize their research and establish the foundations for Azeotrop through the Engineering Entrepreneurship program.
“The research will have no impact if it stays inside the lab,” Elnashar said. “In order to do these great things, we need to bring our work’s application into the real world.”
Find this article and a lot more in the 2022 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.