Mary Sevart

Photo of Mary Sevart

March 2022 Student Spotlight

Department: Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Describe your research/creative scholarship in a few sentences that we can all understand: I take two waste products—residual hemp biomass after CBD oil extraction and crude glycerin from the biodiesel production process—and create two value added products: biocrude oil, which may be used as a fuel source, and a biochar, which may be used as a fertilizer. The reaction to form these products mimics fossil fuel production and may increase the profitability of the hemp industry. 


Q: What does your research look like on a day-to-day basis? What do you spend most of your time doing?

A: I spend a lot of time running reactions, which take around 8-10 hours to complete, and analyzing my products! Most of my time is spent preparing the reactors for reaction and extracting my products after reaction. 


Q: Who mentors your project?

A: I am mentored by graduate student Joao Poli and Dr. Susan Williams.


Q: What surprised you about doing a larger research or creative project?

A: I was surprised about how much I enjoy my project! Even after being involved in research for a couple of years, I am still amazed at how I can create a fuel source just from hemp biomass and glycerin.


Q:What did you find most challenging about getting involved in or doing your project? What advice would you offer to students facing similar challenges?

A: It can be difficult to block out large amounts of time to run reactions during the semester, and roadblocks can be very discouraging. I would advise students to persevere and not give up when they reach a standstill in their project or if their project isn't advancing as fast as they would like. 


Q: What do you like most about your project?

A: I love working with the high-pressure reactors and getting to create usable products from seemingly unusable reactants. I love feeling like I am making a difference in the renewable energy industry and helping to reduce waste!


Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not working on your project?

A: When I'm not doing research, I love going on hikes, gardening, and reading a good book at local coffee shops!


Instagram:  @mary_elizabeth55