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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: October 2013 to March 2016

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.

Nigeria 1

Nigeria 2

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

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
This quarter has been one of remarkable progress in the actualization of the desktop learning module for bio-fuel production. With the completion of the paper design of the DLM gasifier and the syngas cleanup unit in the last quarter, the activities undertaken in this quarter were geared towards practical actualization of the designs. Due to the limitation in the team’s laboratories in Nigeria, most of the laboratory/construction work is being done by the American partner at Washington State University.

The team made further progress in the development of the gasifier. Initially, the team was struggled to attain gasification temperature using tungsten wire as the heating element in the glass reactor. The introduction of laggings and shielding of the reactor have significantly increased the attainable temperature in the reactor. Analysis has also shown that the effect of conductive heat transfer in the system is very minimal, while radiation is the most important heat transfer coefficient in the reactor. Further analysis demonstrated that painting the inner surface of the reactor with silver increased the heat lost due to radiation in the reactor. Additionally, the syngas cleanup system, experiment is ongoing to determine if the designed cleaning system will serve, but the preliminary results are highly encouraging.

The Desktop Learning Modules for gasification processes developed under this PEER grant will be showcased at a national workshop planned for November 12, 2015, and two members of the Nigerian team will travel to Washington State University to participate in a second project-related workshop there later in November. 
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