I graduated from my undergraduate institution one semester early, and I dedicated that bonus semester, spring 2016, to work as an SULI (Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship) intern at the Cyclotron Road at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL).
With minimal knowledge in chemistry, I dived into this internship and I ended up doing well. At LBL, I designed, assembled and operated a custom chemical reactor that converts sugars to plastics. With the working reactor, I designed and carried out catalytic optimization experiments to maximize product yield. To analyze results, I utilized gas chromatography (GC), mass spectroscopy (MS), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to study the final products.
It is worth noting that this work was done at a startup (Visolis. Inc.) housed in LBL at the time. LBL has an accelerator program called “Cyclotron Road” to help early stage clean energy science startups. It was my first exposure to startups, and I was fascinated. However, due to the intellectual property reasons, I am unable to go into much details about my work.
I did, however, completed a final presentation at the end of the program:
Zeyan Xu, Brian Neltner, Deepak Dugar. “Optimization of Thermochemical Reactions for Eco-friendly Plastic Materials Production”. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Intern Poster Session. 04/2016