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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.

Workshop Nurudeen
Cross-section of participants at the workshop exhibition in ABU,Zaria (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
For the 2016 year under review, efforts were geared towards accomplishing some of the activities started in the previous quarter. The project team were able to conclude their capacity building program on engineering educational building research. However, they are yet to conduct the pedagogy study on the DLM for renewable energy due to the unsuitability of last semester for the study, as the courses proposed for the research were not taught during the last quarter.

In the first and second years of the grant, various milestones were recorded. Capacity building for the two teams, the paper design, laboratory experiments, and the fabrication of the first sets of DLM for bio-fuels production were some of the milestones achieved in the first two years of the grant implementation. Since the design and fabrication of the Desktop Learning Modules for bio-fuel production was successfully completed in the previous years, the team focused majorly on dissemination of the achievements made through this grant, development of the local capacity  in Nigerian to fabricate the DLMs, and the development of the pedagogy aspect of the research.
Part of the objectives of this project is to carry out a pedagogy study on the effect of hands on learning using DLM to teach the concept of bio-fuel production in the class. In this year under review, efforts were geared towards the development of the pedagogy aspect of the research. Series of activities were held to develop the capacities of the team members in this area. An expert in the area of engineering education and pedagogy studies Dr. Baba Abdul of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was co-opted into the team to assist in this area. Also, Dr. Sola from Washington State University, USA who is a member of the team is also assisting. The team audited same chapters in Educational research textbooks to boost their capacity in this area. They have been able to identify the cognitive elements of biomass gasification and have designed a free response questionnaire that will be used in the class room to identify the misconceptions that students might have in biomass gasification technology. They have also identified the courses and the level that could be used for the studies. They are discussing with the authorities in the department of Chemical Engineering, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to get permission for the deployment of the study. They hope to carry out the Pedagogy study during the winter semester.

In other to sustain the achievements of this grant beyond the life of the grant and to integrate it into the already existing works on DLM in Nigeria, and to avail their US partners the opportunity to assess and evaluate the activities carried out thus far; a three day seminal was organized by the teams between the 8th and 10th of February, 2016.

The team is presently carrying out the test run of the pyrolysis experimental rig. They are also working on the construction of DLM for gasification processes in NARICT. This is being done to enable them develop local capacity in the fabrication of DLMs in the country. They  have reached an advanced stage in the development of a manual for international collaborations between the USA and a resource limited countries. Lastly, one of the deliverables highlighted in the supplementary proposal submitted by their US partner is the development of an International Manual for collaboration between the US and other resource limited countries. They are presently working to develop this manual.
The team  hopes to continue with the development of the international collaboration manual and the domestication of the fabrication technology for DLM production. They also hope to carry out the pedagogy studies within the next quarter. 

Nurudeen_CoPIYusuf Picture
Exhibition during one day workshop in Zaria, Nigeria (Photo Courtesy of Dr. Bugaje)Dr. Nurudeen Yusuf delivering a presentation during workshop in Zaria, Nigeria (Photo Courtesy of Dr. Bugaje)

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