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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
 
On January 22, 2014, PI Dr. Nurudeen Yusuf and his colleagues held a one-day workshop on the PEER project at the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT). Speakers included co-PI Dr. Abdulazeez Atta, as well as other NARICT staffers and invited faculty from the Department of Chemical and Mechanical Engineering at Ahmadu Bello University. U.S. partner Dr. Bernard Van Wie was to have delivered a presentation live on the impact of desktop learning modules (DLMs) on engineering education, but due to last-minute technical difficulties his paper was distributed to participants after the event.
 
Both sides of the U.S.-Nigeria partnership have set to work on their particular tasks in jointly designing a DLM for gasification processes. The NARICT team, which is responsible for designing the syngas cleanup process, has conducted a literature survey on the whole process, from biomass gasification to syngas cleanup and conditioning, process selection, and simulation of processes. The team had to adapt quickly to the software package Aspen Plus in order to run simulations on solids, and the training provided to the students has significantly improved their skills with this modeling tool. Meanwhile, the Washington State University side of the project has been designing a gasifier. Team members have been working on the kinetic study of biomass gasification and trying to perfect the design of the reactor.
 
It is hoped that in the next project quarter, the skills acquired during this design work will help further the modeling and simulation of the syngas cleanup process. With the completion of modeling and simulation of the process, a final design can be agreed on, and arrangement for fabrication of the DLM may be made. Two or three members of the NARICT team will visit Washington State University later this year during the fabrication and testing.
 
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