Gregory Lui’s three-minute explanation of how beer and other wastewater can be turned into clean water and also produce electricity captured the People’s Choice Award and second-place finish overall in the Canadian Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.
The Waterloo chemical engineering doctoral candidate’s winning presentation entitled Photocatalysts: Using Today’s Waste to Power the Future describes how photocatalytic materials could use sunlight to simultaneously break down pollutants in wastewater and generate electricity.
By using one static slide, Lui demonstrated how wastewater created in the beer brewing process could be converted back into clean water, while at the same time generating electricity.
“As the first step for the past year, I’ve worked with local breweries to successfully use their wastewater for photocatalytics. This means for the first time using this principle we were able to convert beer wastewater back into clean water and generate electricity in the process,” Lui says in his presentation, adding with a smile, "therefore, I’d like to thank all you drinkers out there for making this possible for me."
The ultimate goal of Lui’s research is to apply scientific principles to solve real-world problems, particularly those related to water quality, pollution and energy security.
Lui was the winner of Waterloo’s campus-wide 3MT competition held in March of this year. He went on to compete at the provincial competitions at York University on April 19.
3MT is an international research communication competition that challenges graduate students to articulate the impact of their research in three minutes using just one slide. It is important that their presentations are both understandable and engaging to a non-technical audience.