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Lucy Penna

Chemical engineering student

Lucy Penna

Chemical engineering undergrad Lucy Penna is using a biofuel by-product to make sustainable, nutritious vegan food

Biofuel is a type of renewable fuel made using plants. One of the ways it’s produced? Mustard seeds. Yep! The biofuel process leaves behind a pressed mustard seed ‘cake’ – and this is the focus of chemical engineering student Lucy Penna’s work at the University of Adelaide.

Still in her undergraduate years, Lucy’s designing a machine to separate the protein-rich component of the mustard-seed cake to turn it into an affordable, nutritious and tasty vegan ingredient.

This is just one example of how diverse chemical engineering can be, Lucy says. “We learn about applications in mining and minerals, oil and gas, food and beverage, water and waste management and renewable energy.”

Lucy says she is excited about the opportunities emerging around biofuels and hopes to one day use her engineering skills to solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges.

Lucy was inspired by a trip to rural Nepal with Engineers Without Borders Australia where she saw human-centred design and humanitarian engineering in action.

“This experience made me realise I have a lot more to learn in this area, but my ultimate goal is to be able to apply my skills and knowledge in a humanitarian setting,” she says.

Lucy’s study and career pathway

This article is brought to you in partnership with University of Adelaide and originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2021.

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