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EfS Experiences

EfS Experiences | Student | Érica Geraldes Castanheira

Publication date: 29-05-2013 11:39


Érica Geraldes Castanheira

I’m a PhD student of the MIT-Portugal Doctoral Program in Sustainable Energy Systems (SES) since 2008. I’m developing research under the theme Environmental Sustainability Assessment of Biodiesel, supervised by Professor Fausto Freire. An environmental life-cycle assessment of biodiesel produced from palm and soybean oil has been implemented, addressing local aspects and impacts of oil crops production in Latin America, as well as the biodiesel production in Portugal. The sustainability assessment of biodiesel is a complex topic and there are substantial disagreements in current published studies. In my thesis I want to contribute to the ongoing debate on how to model and assess the overall environmental impacts of palm and soybean biodiesel.

Since I have eared about SES Program I felt that it could be a good opportunity to develop my research project in an emergent field that integrates engineering, energy and environmental systems analysis. Furthermore, the Energy for Sustainability initiative brings together faculty from various teaching and research institutions, and offers an interesting and diversified number of courses. Also, during the last four years I had various and exciting personal and professional experiences: I spent three months at University of São Paulo, three weeks at MIT and I presented my work at several conferences. Additionally, I have participated in various R&D projects (e.g. BioHeavy, BioTrans, BioACV, Ecodeep) and cooperation projects with companies, namely with the Portuguese Association of Biofuel Producers (APPB). It has been an extraordinary journey!