Photo of Iris Yu

Energy & sustainability

Iris Yu

Microwave-assisted biorefinery, pursuing energy-efficient valorization of bioresources into platform chemicals.

Year Honored

National University of Singapore

Asia Pacific

Hails From
Asia Pacific

Food waste significantly makes up 20-60% of the municipal solid waste in many countries including Singapore, Thailand, and China. Landfill disposal and incineration (together with other waste streams) remain as the major treatments worldwide, which have raised concerns over the considerable carbon and pollutant emissions. To achieve zero carbon and mitigate climate change, new upcycling technologies are needed to turn the bio-wastes into bio-renewable products, in particular, with market potential to exercise circular bio-economies in the context of sustainable development.

To this end, Iris K.M. Yu sets a new research landscape of microwave-assisted biorefinery, pursuing energy-efficient valorization of bioresources into platform chemicals and functionalized materials via innovative engineering solutions.

Yu strives to advance the knowledge about microwave effects within catalytic systems, particularly in the domains of Microwave activation of feedstock, Microwave-catalyst synergy, Solvent-mediated catalysis. She envisions to reap the benefit of “microwave superheating” for designing high-efficiency biorefinery processes as the pathway to actualize food waste circular economy. Successful deployment of the technology will enable diversity and build resilience in food waste management agenda, marking a revolutionary change in the recycling business ecosystem where biological processes currently hold the largest market share.