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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.

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).

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
The third quarter of the project saw significant progress in the actualization of the design targets as the team continued to improve and extend the progress made in the previous quarters. Activities included continued communication between the two teams and the proposal of a new set-up for the DLM as well as the modification of design specifications for individual components. The proposed new set-up was designed to suit the size of the gasifier being created by the US partner. Research continued into the gasification, and with the use of vegetable oil for tar absorption as found in literature, about 63% removal can be achieved on implementing this design. Preliminary design specifications for the tar absorption column and the CO2 absorption column were also made.

The bi-weekly meetings between the two teams and the sharing of documents continued during this quarter to the benefit of the project as a whole. During the beginning of this period, there was a set-back in communication due to technical hitches and poor networking by the service providers. The problem was rectified with the help of the NARICT USAID-PEER team by considering a more reliable alternative provider.

With the remarkable progress achieved in the last three quarters, it is hoped that in the fourth quarter, the DLM gasifier and syngas cleaning unit will be constructed and tested in the first quarter of 2014. The final design of the DLM biomass gasifier and cleaning unit will be agreed on with input from both teams and arrangements for the creation of the DLM will be made. This will include an exchange visit for multiple members of the Nigerian team to visit Washington State University during the fabrication, commissioning, and testing of the DLMs.
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