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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Renewable energy: desktop learning module for gasification processes

PI: Idris Bugaje (National Research Institute for Chemical Technology)
U.S. Partner: Bernard J. Van Wie (Washington State University)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2015

Gasification is a promising process that can be used in promoting the commercialization of drop-in fuels produced from renewable sources. Gasification is, however, a complex process that entails both simple and complex reactions that could be very difficult to comprehend. The advent of Desktop Learning Modules (DLM) in engineering education has been shown to increase conceptualization, as evidenced by numerous publications from the U.S. partner on the project, Dr. Van Wie. In this PEER Science project, Dr. Bugaje and Dr. Van Wie will extend previous DLM-related work that the latter has carried out with Ahmadu Bello University, originally targeting fluid mechanics and heat transfer, to biofuels education by developing a DLM system for a gasifier process. This will serve as an excellent means of introducing both students and researchers into the field of gasification and enhancing their understanding of the process. Currently, such a simple and yet important set-up is not available. Designing such a process to work in the developing nation of Nigeria will serve to educate and train the next generation of workforce personnel who will promote and implement renewable energy processes. Furthermore, because the process will be self-contained and self-powered, it will be designed to work in domains where electricity and water utilities are intermittent or even non-functional – this itself will allow use as well as personnel training in remote areas where renewable energy is most needed. It will also provide an inexpensive teaching and learning device that can be used worldwide, especially in programs with low budgets and less than desirable access to utilities.
 
It is expected that the desktop learning system will serve as a learning module for the general introduction of the concept of gasification and pyrolysis as well as a basis from which laboratory data obtained could be used to design an up-scaled pilot plant. At the planned research institute, the learning module will serve as an instructional guide for teaching the concept of gasification with application to industrial processes. This should be especially useful to engineering students temporarily attending the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology on industrial attachment. It will serve as a test platform and display system so that the desktop learning module can be extended to other educational and research institutions. It is expected to provide learners with an overview of the concept and stimulate the development of desktop learning modules for other challenging engineering processes.
 
Summary of Recent Activities
 
During the first three months of the project, both the PI and the U.S. partner assembled their research teams. It was agreed that the PI’s group would design a biofuel cleaning and upgrading mechanism, while the U.S. partner’s team would focus on the design of a gasification reactor. A workshop, organized by the U.S. half of the project group, was held in late December. Subjects included biomass gasification and assessment of past desktop learning modules (DLMs) and how they have been able to improve conceptualization of processes being taught in classrooms.

Nigeria 1
Dr. Nurudeen Yusuf presents at the bio-gasification workshop held on December 19, 2013 (Photo courtesy Dr. Bugaje).

Nigeria 2
Thanks to PEER funding, students in the project are equipped with laptop computers for their work on the desktop learning system (photo courtesy of Dr. Bugaje).

In the next quarter, a sensitization workshop is planned for at the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) in January. It is expected that faculty members from relevant engineering departments from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria will be invited to discuss on the project. U.S. partner Bernard Van Wie is is expected to deliver a paper on the impact of DLMs on engineering education, while co-PI Abdulazeez Atta will delineate recent progress. It is expected that both teams will come up with designs for the DLMs. This will include establishment of design parameters and suitable construction materials. Fabrication arrangements are expected within six months. In that time frame, two or three members of the Nigerian research team are expected to visit Washington State University.
 
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