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Nigerian university becomes first to launch its own organic waste power plant

April 10, 2019 at 11:09 am | Tech & Innovation

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor | Staff Writer

April 10, 2019 at 11:09 am | Tech & Innovation

Inadequate power supply has been one of the major headaches of people in Nigeria over the years. The never-ending power generation failure continues to affect the country’s economy and overall development as businesses cripple under frequent power cuts.

As Nigeria looks for a lasting solution to its energy crisis, a university in the West African country has built an organic waste power-generating plant to provide electricity to the whole institution.

The University of Nigeria, the first indigenous university in the country, is receiving all the praises for this feat, as it is the first university in the country to introduce such an initiative.

The organic waste power plant is a 100 kilo-volt-ampere (kVA) refuse-derived fuel (RDF) gasification plant designed to power the whole campus and nearby communities, said ThisIsAfrica.

Image result for the university of nigeria
The University of Nigeria. Pic credit: The Guardian Nigeria

The project was initiated by Prof Chinedu Nebo, the former vice chancellor of the university located in South East Nigeria when he was the Minister of Power four years ago.

A group of researchers at the institution, led by Prof Emenike Ejiogu, completed the innovation and the plant last month with special grant funding by the university.

Ejiogu, an engineer who received training from Japan, is said to have a lot of skills in electric power devices and systems, as well as, new energy systems, including wind, solar, and fuel-cell energy.

“The aim is to enable the institution to generate its own electricity with organic waste serving as fuel,” said Ejiogu, who is optimistic that the project will curtail the increasing cost that inadequate power supply brings.

Prof Benjamin Ozumba, the present vice-chancellor of the university who launched the plant last month said:

“By the time more of these plants are established, covering every part of the university, millions of naira will be saved every month as we will no longer pay monthly electricity bills to the power company.”

The research team was set to produce 250kVA plants, which will supply the energy needs of the entire university and adjoining communities.

“Our university’s power demand now is 3 megawatts, so with 12 250kVA of RDF plants, we will meet the electricity supply needs of the university,” Ejiogu said.

Agricultural by-products such as corn husks and wood chips would be the sources of organic waste that could be used as waste materials to power the plant, the university said.

Experts say the organic waste power-generating plant is cheaper, effective, and can carry more currents than solar energy. So far, individuals, offices, and businesses have been making requests for installations, the university said.

The research team is also hopeful that the plant will generate employment opportunities for young people, as there will be, for instance, a demand for people to supply the waste products required to power the plant.

Waste management is one of the biggest challenges confronting many African countries. The issue of collection, management and disposal of solid waste still features highly in major towns and cities across the region.

Failure to correctly manage waste disposal has often led to flooding and the outbreak of diseases. For decades, many countries in Africa depend on fossil fuels and non-renewable energy resources for electricity. The limited supply of these sources of energy has compelled a few countries to look for alternatives.

Some African countries have, therefore, considered turning their rubbish dumps into waste-to-energy plants that could power their cities and towns in the wake of frequent power cuts.

Ethiopia has taken the lead by building Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant which will incinerate 1,400 tons of waste every day from one of the largest waste landfills in Africa called Repi dumpsite.

The plant will supply the people with 30 percent of their household electricity needs. The incineration plant will burn the rubbish in a combustion chamber. The heat produced will be used to boil water until it turns to steam, which drives a turbine generator that produces electricity.

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