Yalinu Poya graduated with her BSc. in Chemistry from University of Papua New Guinea in 2011, she then attained her MSc. in Inorganic Chemistry from the Northeast Normal University in the People’s Republic of China. She is currently a final year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom. Yalinu’s PhD is in heterogeneous catalysis, her research focuses on synthesising catalysts for ammonia production in the Haber–Bosch Process.
Developed in the early 1900’s, the Haber–Bosch Process was a landmark achievement of the 20th Century. It currently produces over 180 million tonnes of ammonia annually, establishing an accessible route for the production of over 450 million tonnes of synthetic fertilizer, which sustains food production for 40% of the global population. The Haber–Bosch process is a mature technology, however there are many challenges to make it more sustainable. It currently consumes 2% of the world’s energy demand and produces 1.6% of man-made CO2 emissions. To reduce these harmful effects and yield massive economic and environmental benefits, there is great interest in developing small scale local ammonia production plants based on renewable hydrogen generated from water via electrolysis and powered by sustainable electricity sources such as wind energy. This could facilitate the production of ammonia on a local scale such as on a farm, therefore it is necessary to develop novel ammonia synthesis catalysts which are active under less severe operational conditions.
Yalinu’s project is highly relevant to the UN global challenges in relation to “food” and “climate change”. It addresses global environmental concerns and energy security from sustainable resources. She is a highly effective and engaging ambassador, communicating the importance of her work to people of all backgrounds, raising the profile of her work through competitions, public engagement events, media interviews, presentations and meetings with diplomats.