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Pavan N. Mehrotra, 18, of Simi Valley, submitted an engineering project to the Intel Science Talent Search that investigated a way to generate clean electrical power from biomass by merging two kinds of fuel cells. Pavan's design could be used to more effectively convert biomass directly into electricity. His patent pending conversion process combines a yeast microbial fuel cell (MFC) that runs on biomass, with a direct alcohol fuel cell (DAFC) that uses the alcohol generated by the yeast. Pavan had to overcome the challenge of yeast fermentation byproducts fouling the platinum catalyst. He succeeded by adding a semi-permeable membrane with sub-nanometer pores between the chambers, so yeast contaminants are stopped, while allowing alcohol to pass through. An avid researcher, he participated in plankton studies and squid and shark dissections two years ago at the Long Beach Marine Institute. Pavan attends Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, where he tutors students and is captain of the varsity soccer team. The son of Vivek and Sunita Mehrotra, Pavan volunteers at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Walt Disney Archives and raised $2,500 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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