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Sachs-Quintana Wins Paper Competition, Jan. 30, 2008

Toby Sachs-Quintana

by Valerie Kimble

SOCORRO, N.M., Jan. 30, 2008 – Toby Sachs-Quintana, a 21-year-old materials engineering major at New Mexico Tech – and self-ascribed “green guy” – has won the $1500 top prize in a regional scientific writing competition. He is a 2005 graduate of Albuquerque High School.

Sachs-Quintana submitted his award-winning paper, “Applied Material and Energy Balance for Biomass Gasification,” to the ITEA (Instrumentation, Testing and Evaluation Association) Paper Contest. The paper was published in ITEA conference proceedings, and Sachs-Quintana gave a presentation at the ITEA conference last month in Las Cruces, where Dr. John Meason, director of EMRTC, presented him with the award.

Competing schools included the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, the University of Texas at El Paso and New Mexico Tech.

“I wrote the paper during a summer job with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, Colo., in 2007,” said Sachs-Quintana.

He credits his project advisor, laboratory engineer Dr. Calvin Feik, for his assistance; and also the NREL’s Office of Education for organizing the summer internship. He cited Feik and his fellow scientists and engineers as “holding the key to our energy future by exploring biomass gasification to free our dependence on foreign oil.”

The paper discusses how to use basic conservation of energy and mass to determine whether data acquisition of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s biomass gasification plan was reliable, he said.

Was it?

“Yes and no,” Sachs-Quintana replied. “However, the study did point out strengths and weaknesses of the biomass gasification plant at NREL.” he said. Gasification is more efficient than the currently used process of ethanol fermentation, he explained.

“The eventual goal is to use biomass gasification to reduce the cost of fuel to around $1.70 a gallon,” said Sachs-Quintana.

Sachs-Quintana heads into his fifth semester at New Mexico Tech with a 4.0 GPA. Following graduation, he would like to work in the engineering industry to produce an efficient, clean source of energy.

Sachs-Quintana says he chose New Mexico Tech for college because “it's a good-quality school in a nice, quiet town, and I could graduate without debt.”

On the personal side, his interests include dancing and cooking.

Sachs-Quintana drives a used Ford Ranger, and justifies its energy efficiency: “I saved more energy by buying a used car than a hybrid,” he said.

Said Sachs-Quintana with a smile: “I think I’m doing okay on that end.”

-- NMT --