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two men smiling by poster
From left: Jacob Vasquez and Godwin Severa in front of Vasquez’s award-winning poster.

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa student’s work to improve the efficiency of fuel-cell technology was awarded first place in the student poster presentation session at the 13th World Filtration Congress in October. The honor came with a scholarship from the American Filtration Society.

Global Environmental Science student Jacob Vasquez presented research he has been conducting for his senior thesis with Godwin Severa, assistant researcher at the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. They developed and tested specialized materials that capture atmospheric acidic gases that can pass through and impact the efficiency of fuel cells as they generate clean energy. To improve air purification technology, Vasquez analyzed the capacity for various materials to absorb gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

man showing his poster board
Jacob Vasquez talking with conference attendees about his research findings.

“The entire experience developed my presentation and networking skills and was an absolutely beneficial experience for me made possible by my department, the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute, and the UH Mānoa Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP),” said Vasquez. “It was rewarding to share our efforts to improve this promising clean energy technology.”

The conference was an international opportunity for professionals and students to present their state-of-the-art research in filtration. It included presentations from 30 students representing seven different countries over the course of two days. Students were evaluated by a panel that included experts in the filtration industry.

“We have exceptional students at UH doing cutting edge materials research that is critical for sustaining our future, including the full realization of fuel-cell based technologies,” said Severa. “It’s fulfilling to see our students participating in these efforts being rewarded. I encourage students to seek research experiences. It’s never too early to start. We are here to assist students in achieving and exceeding their expectations.”

Vasquez’s travel and conference attendance was supported by UH Mānoa UROP Presentation funding.

–By Marcie Grabowski

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