Elvin Cabrera graduated in 2019 with a professional chemistry degree. His research interests include development of clean and renewable energy, sport supplementation, pharmaceuticals, and health. Cabrera has experience in organic chemistry research extracting essential oils from plant matter and analyzing its chemical composition. With his mentor Dr. Steiner, his research involved the development of analytical methods for analysis of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) compounds in biodiesel using gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector (GC-FID) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). In the fall of 2019 Elvin Cabrera began attending Washington State University’s Chemistry PhD program with full funding. He was also accepted to PhD programs at Oregon State University and the University of Arizona.
2017 McNair Faculty Research Mentor: Dr. Wes Steiner - Chemistry
Research Title: Development of a Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) Assay for Biodiesel by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR)
Abstract: The reality of fossil fuels being a finite resource has been the one of the main driving forces for a global reduction of fossil fuel dependence and an increased effort to produce renewable biological fuel sources such as biodiesel. Biodiesel is made from fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) compounds which are produced from a catalyzed transesterification reaction involving methanol and the triglycerides extracted from the oils of common plant based crops such as rapeseed, soybean, and sunflower. Biodiesel which is mainly comprised of simple hydrocarbons has many desirable fuel properties that result in a cleaner burning fuel that produces less overall engine wear. Thus it has become of interest to be able to accurately assess the concentration of FAME compounds in biodiesels as their respective blends vary over time. Thus, the primary objective of this experiment was to precisely and accurately determine the FAME compound concentrations of a commonly used biodiesel blend via two different direct calibration methods with the secondary objective being to refine the analytical procedures for future use with constant volume standard addition calibration methods. To this end, the biodiesel samples were analyzed with a Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy fitted with an attenuated total reflectance (ATR) sample interface. Which yielded calibrations with correlation coefficients (R2) values of ≥ 0.995 and quality control (QC) percent relative errors (%RE) values of ≤ 4.0%. All calibration standards, quality controls, and samples were ran in triplicate with each of the replicates being scanned six times.