Ana Rita C. MORAIS, PhD Student in Sustainable Chemistry (Portugal)

Ana Rita Morais

Ana Morais regards the use of ’dirty’ chemicals in sustainable feedstock processing as something that is ruining the sustainability of biomass-based processes. This is the primary reason why the use of more sustainable solvents in processing of agro-industrial residues has become the focus of her research.

LABORATÓRIO NACIONAL DE ENERGIA E GEOLOGIA, I. P., PORTUGAL UNIVERSIDADE NOVA DE LISBOA, PORTUGAL

Research focus: integration of green chemistry into the valorisation of biomass wastes and residues through the use of more sustainable technologies

The environmental changes that have transpired in last few decades have increased the need to search for more sustainable and renewable carbon sources. The most natural alternative seems to be lignocellulosic biomass. Less noble lignocellulosic feedstocks, including wastes and residues, appear to be relevant as potential sources of biofuels, biochemicals and biomaterials. Morais thinks that instead of using food culture as a feedstock, we should direct our interest at wastes and residues. She asserts, ‘Wastes have to be seen as opportunity and not as a problem’. Morais already possesses an impressive record in terms of publications and international presentations, which are based on her convictions regarding the real meaning of word ‘sustainability’.

Morais believes that the work executed at Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) would be especially relevant to her field of research. Specifically, she explains that, ‘I am particularly interested in the area of biomass processing with high-pressure fluids and “white” biotechnology, which are one of the main focus areas of expertise of TUHH’. Morais is fully confident that her interest in waste valorisation with special focus on food waste can create one more hotspot between both groups of TUHH and herself. Incidentally, Morais already had an opportunity to exchange ideas with researchers from TUHH during conferences and during her participation as team member in preparation of common projects for Horizon 2020.

With an academic background in biosciences and food engineering, Morais is currently a PhD student specialising in sustainable chemistry at Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia, I.P. and Universidade NOVA de Lisboa in Portugal. For her studies, she was granted a PhD scholarship from the Foundation for Science and Technology, FCT, Portugal. In 2016, she received a travel grant to the United States by the LUSO-AMERICAN Development Foundation for her oral presentation at the international conference, Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals. Morais confirmed that participation in the Green Talents program would motivate her to look for further collaboration with German partners and perhaps in the future, to perform her investigations at a research centre in Germany.

The jury complimented Morais’ passion for deep research towards the implementation of novel green and sustainable technologies in the biomass processing. Her participation in the science forum would be a remarkable phase in her academic career, and it would mark the beginning of a new professional juncture.