Get to know more about CERENA's new Team Member- Salomé Vieira
What will you be doing at CERENA?
I’m working with Professor João Bordado in developing new formulations for foams, that are less harmful to the environment. These formulations can be made by using polyols that come from crude glycerol and waste cooking oils (which have already originated 2 master’s thesis), or by decreasing their content in free isocyanates and making them cure by oxygen and not by humidity.
Could you please tell us about your scientific journey?
I finished my PhD in Technological Chemistry in 2016, in the research group of Prof. Carlos Castro at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. My research centered around the study of existing materials – in nature (pigments from fishing industry residues and berries of invasive plants) and those produced industrially (carbon nanotubes and graphene) – with potential application in the conversion of solar thermal energy, in order to increase the efficiency of commercially available solar collectors, at a lower cost (water based paint coatings and nanomaterials/water/ethylene glycol heat transfer fluids).
Since then I have worked in Chile in 2 projects. One was a theoretical and experimental study of solar cooling systems powered by a photovoltaic array, with phase change materials (PCMs), optimizing their configurations and providing them with greater autonomy to be used in the food industry, particularly in preserving fruits of high value-added to meet export standards. Another area in which I worked was evaluating the feasibility and profitability of replacing fossil energy used for desalination plants for small communities with renewable energy, totally or partially. A case study was presented for a nanofiltration plant that produced water for irrigation and human consumption on the Chilean coast, powered by the electricity grid. With the ROSA (Reverse Osmosis System Analysis) and Homer Pro (simulation of a viable energy system) simulation software, the experimental data of the desalination plant were optimized and a hybrid system with photovoltaic energy was presented for on-grid and off-grid cases.
Any tips for young researchers, PhD students and Pos-docs, or someone reading us who wants to become a scientist?
It doesn’t matter from which position or at what age you start in comparison with your colleagues. You have to be willing to make an effort and try to get the best performance. Sometimes you have to study a little bit more, or you have to approach more people to pitch your project, or you will get more criticism and have to re-write your project again and again, but those are not failures. They are simply different roads to achieve the same objective that is to contribute to the scientific and technical knowledge. Although luck sometimes plays a role in this world, it isn’t the main factor. In the end, getting the best and more trustful results, whether they prove or disprove your theory, is the main goal and that comes with doing a good work.