Miguel de la Salle R. Twahirwa


Faculty Mentor: Klavs Jensen

Direct Supervisor: Patrick L. Heider

Home University: Morehouse College

Major: Chemistry and Mathematics



I was born and raised in Rwanda and I attend Morehouse College. I am a junior majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics and I am also a Rwandan Presidential Scholar. I am really interested in chemical engineering and material sciences and my research interests include clean and renewable, characterization and design of organic electronic materials and nanoscale process systems engineering. My ultimate goal is to obtain a PhD, and my hobbies include playing basketball and watching documentaries.


Conversion of xylose into furfural using biphasic microreactors in continuous flow with recycling

Diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, an increasing global demand for energy, and growing concerns about global warming attest to the need for renewable and sustainable sources of energy, chemicals, and materials. Furanic compounds have applications as fuel additives and chemical replacements due to their ability to be converted to a number of other compounds. These compounds have the potential to replace the petroleum-based building blocks essential to the production of fuels and various chemicals. In this project, we studied the conversion of xylose (a widely available feedstock contained in biomass waste streams) to the furanic compound furfural using biphasic microreactors. Adding a recycle stream increased the overall yield of furfural by twenty percent and prevented the formation of solids. The process was scaled up from the microreactor 100-fold to demonstrate increased production of furfural from xylose by running this reaction in a Corning advanced.