Postgraduate student Brenda Lim Ai-Lian receives POPSIG Student Research Project Bursary

Postgraduate student Brenda Lim Ai-Lian receives POPSIG Student Research Project Bursary

UTAR Master of Engineering Science student from Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science (LKC FES) Brenda Lim Ai-Lian was chosen as one of the recipients for this year’s POPSIG Student Research Project Bursary, sponsored by Desmet Ballestra (M) Sdn Bhd and Malaysian Oleochemical Manufacturers Group (MOMG). She received a total of RM3,000 for her research project which was related to the palm oil sector.

Brenda Lim (most left) and other winners of POPSIG Student Research Project Bursary

Brenda Lim’s award-winning research project, titled “Synthesis of carbon nanoparticles from oil palm empty fruit bunch as electro-catalyst for energy storage”, was supervised by Centre for Photonics and Research Chairperson-cum-LKC FES lecturer and co-supervised by LKC FES academics Dr Pang Yean Ling and Ts Dr Shuit Siew Hoong.

The research project aims to produce an electro-catalyst that is efficient yet cheaper and more sustainable compared to the conventional air cathode material. In Brenda Lim’s project, the oil palm empty fruit bunch will be utilised as a precursor to synthesise nano-sized carbon materials. These nano-sized carbon materials are the electrochemical catalyst that is used as an air cathode material in the Metal-Air Batteries (MAB).

 “The utilisation of biomass waste (oil palm empty fruit bunch) could benefit the oil palm industry by reducing the waste accumulation and increasing the value of the oil palm plant. The commercialisation of Metal-Air Batteries (MAB) was set back partially due to the high cost of the air cathode material; the application of biomass waste as raw material to produce the air cathode material could significantly reduce the production cost. With that, Metal-Air Batteries (MAB) can be used widely as an affordable energy storage technology that brings efficiency and convenience to the users. The result of this research study will contribute to the development of Industry 4.0 technology when it brings Metal-Air Batteries (MAB) a step closer to its commercialisation,” explained Brenda Lim.

When asked about her inspiration, she said, “Modern problem requires a modern solution. I got the idea to utilise oil palm empty fruit bunch as an electro-catalyst when I found out that Malaysia was the second-largest palm oil producer in the world. The production of palm oil is generating a large amount of biomass wastes, so the accumulation of these wastes could bring detrimental effects to the environment of our country. On the other hand, renewable energy sources have not been used as the primary energy sources due to their unstable supply and lack of suitable energy storage systems to store the energy. With the large amount of biomass wastes (oil palm empty fruit bunch) generated during the production of palm oil, the oil palm empty fruit bunch is full of potential to be used as a useful raw material which is green and sustainable to supply energy.”

After knowing she was selected as one of the winners, Brenda Lim expressed her gratitude and said, “I would like to share my deepest gratitude to UTAR for giving me the opportunity as well as a conducive environment to carry out my research project. I would also like to thank my supervisor and co-supervisors, Dr Steven Lim, Dr Pang Yean Ling and Dr Shuit Siew Hoong for giving me guidance and encouragement, especially during the tough times I faced throughout my research period due to the pandemic. I feel grateful because I was given the opportunity to grow and step further in my academic career.”

Brenda Lim also mentioned that the award was very important to her as the cash prize can be used to purchase certain expensive chemicals. With the money, she could carry out the research project more extensively and efficiently.

Brenda Lim Ai-Lian

IChemE’s Palm Oil Processing Special Interest Group (POPSIG) is committed to promoting palm oil-related researches among undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. They also provide financial assistance in a form of student bursaries to undergraduate and postgraduate students to attend scientific conferences, workshops or forums which are related to palm oil processing. The POPSIG Student Research Project Bursary, given by (POPSIG), offers up to a maximum of RM3,000 per project to students. The awarded students need to undertake six-month original research related to the palm oil sector, included but not limited to the following themes:

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