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Sieren takes renewable
energy show on the road

Keota High School junior, Shelby Sieren, presented her award-winning state and national research to an audience of approximately 50 people at the English Valleys History Center on Saturday, May 3. The event was sponsored by the Fortnightly Club of North English.  

Sieren’s presentation, titled “Glycerin: Absorption and Combustion for Energy Production,” demonstrated the difference in the combustion energy values of various types of biomass mixed with glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel production, and formed into blocks. The biomass ingredients all grow naturally in Iowa, including switchgrass, corn stalks, wood chips, and oat hulls. Shelby mixed glycerin with the biomass to make a potential solid fuel to burn in energy plants for power generation or for applications such as ethanol production. 

During her presentation, Sieren showed how she set up laboratory conditions to test how the liquid glycerin is absorbed into the various biomass samples. Once hardened, she determined the combustion temperature and energy value of each product. Her conclusions showed that some biomass products, such as switchgrass, mixed with glycerin could be viable in Iowa’s renewable energy production. A major outcome of her presentation also shows that much more energy results from the production of the glycerin-biomass fuel product than is put into creating the product. 

As part of her research, Shelby collaborated with the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa, and Dr. Albert Ratner’s students who are researching biomass for the University Power Plant boilers. Sieren’s presentation was followed by a question and answer session, and enormous interest in her research.

The Fortnightly Club of North English holds monthly educational programs and this one was well-attended by community members for a particularly interesting and exciting presentation by Keota High School student. 


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