Lúc wins silver medal at an international olympiad
Coláiste Raithín student Lúc de Barra won second place in the world for his study into the use of pine needles in biodiesel.
‘It was amazing to be recognised. I was really surprised, the quality was amazing,’ said Lúc. ‘It’s been a wonderful experience,’ said Lúc, who had a few days to relax in The Netherlands with his family before coming home on Sunday. The Wicklow Town teenager represented Ireland at the 8th annual International Environment and Sustainability Project Olympiad (INESPO) held in Utrecht last week. Having won the SEAI sponsored INESPO Award at the SciFest 2015 national final, Lúc faced tough competition from 55 other countries to claim a silver medal award at the INESPO international final 2016. SciFest is a series of one-day science fairs, funded primarily by Science Foundation Ireland, Boston Scientific and Intel. Lúc’s project investigated whether Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) needles which he harvested from sustained managed forests in his native Wicklow could be used as feedstock for biodiesel. Oil was extracted by a process of transesterification whereby compression and steam distillation were used to remove the oil from the pine needles. Having demonstrated that pine needles were unsuitable for biodiesel he went on to show that they had distinct potential for other areas of the bioenergy sector, particularly in the development of a sustainable aviation fuel and high performance fuel additives.
Lúc de Barra.