Nigerian scientist offers alternative power from biodiesel

No Comments » April 5th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Energy Development Project


April 5, 20008

Nigerian scientist offers alternative power


AS soon as she assumed office in June last year, one of the things the minister of Science and Technology, Mrs. Grace Ehiwhre noticed was that too many research and development works of Nigerian scientists end up in the laboratory shelves. “Nobody ever gets to see them because they were not marketed”, she says. To this end, she held a workshop, strategizing on how to take research works from the laboratory to the market, through the commercialization of the works. Already the ministry has begun partnerships and networks with other corporate bodies and ministries to make this come true.

Incidentally, Taslim Owonikoko, chief executive of Berekotry Nigeria Limited, the company which won the Gold Award as the best technology private company in Nigeria at the 2007 National Science and Technology exhibition, is one of the ambitious young Nigerian scientists working to advance scientific research efforts in Nigeria. His research efforts which is in creating alternative sources of energy using biological plants is making waves on the scientific landscape. Last week, his company powered generating sets using diesel derived from cassava and groundnut at Iseyin, Oyo state. The significance of his research outcome if harnessed may provide solution to the problems of power outage currently experienced in the country, which also coincides with the ministry’s goal. He reported to National Daily that the biodiesel produced was successfully run on a Made-In-China 2-stroke, 4.41 Kw Engine on the 24th, 25th, 26th & 27th of March, 2008 on a daily basis at an aggregate of 6.hrs under environmental temperature range of 230C and 400 C at the premises of Berekotry Detergent Industry Limited Iseyin, Oyo State. Owonikoko, is a graduate of chemical engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University. Explaining the research titled, “Biodiesel via transesterification of groundnut derived glyceryl ester using ethanol’, he says, ‘We are using ethanol derived from cassava without any distillation process thereby low energy consumption. Other worldwide processes use methanol which is toxic and not bio-available presently.”

Conversion of Groundnut oil to Ethyl Ester via transesterification of the oil triglyceride to monoesters of the component fatty acids is a project designed to use the product as Biofuel (Biodiesel fuel). The reaction involves reacting the groundnut oil with Ethanol at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. The catalysts used for the reaction are recovered back at the end of the reaction. The reaction goes to completion in just 48hrs. The by-product is aimed to be used as raw material for other industries. Therefore the by-product does not have to go to waste. But with adequate support, we can scale up the production process to a more economical cost.

The market for this research is huge as GSM operators in Nigeria like MTN, Celtel, Ericssion are currently looking for biodiesel projects to power their base stations. Owonikoko says, “We have developed a novel technology to produce Biodiesel cheaply and sustainably using 100 per cent locally available raw materials in Nigeria.

Nevertheless biofuel generation in Nigeria is still facing some challenges. MTN Nigeria, a telecommunications company began the biofuels project last year sponsorship from the GSM Association Development Fund and mobile phone company Ericsson. They used diesel produced from cotton plants and Jathropa plants to power their base station in the outskirts of Lagos. However the project supervisor, told National Daily that the project was discontinued because it was not cost effective simply because the Jathropa plants which produced high yield biodiesel in India was not grown in Nigeria. Secondly because the locally processed fuel had side effects on the company’s generating sets which gave it a short life span. Biodiesel is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel produced from agro-based renewable resources. Biodiesel can be used alone or blended with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It is already commercialized in the U.S, U.K and Brazil. Alternative energy source is the latest in the search for sustainable consumption of our fragile nature-endowed resources the world over.




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