Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
Ibadan, the ancient capital city of Oyo State, was agog wednesday as the Education Advancement Centre (EAC) released a set of chemical products derived from waste plastics and cans.
The products include diesel, kerosene and alum which were made from waste plastic and cans instead of crude oil.
The firm launched the products at an exhibition at its Bodija headquarters, which was one of the activities marking its 20th anniversary.
The products, which come at a cheaper cost, according to the director, Mr Muyiwa Bamgbose, would also reduce environmental destruction through the use of the non-degradable materials as raw materials.
Bamgbose said rather than relying on oil, which was quite expensive, the waste materials, which were available in huge quantity, were far cheaper.
For instance, he said a litre of its kerosene and diesel would cost N120 instead of the average of N200 they were being sold nationwide.
But EAC is not willing to go into large scale production. Rather, the firm is looking for investors or manufacturers that can produce at that level that will meet the needs of Nigerians.
Bamgbose, in an interview with reporters, said: “For the diesel and kerosene, we call them green products. They are made from waste thermosetting plastics which do not have any recycle value. The non-thermosetting plastics can be recycled but thermosetting are useless. From those thermosetting plastics, we have been able to produce kerosene that can reduce the cost of fuel and get our environment cleaner because they are non-degradable.
“The other part is the aluminium from cans. When people finish drinking from aluminium cans, they throw them away. Some compress them and export. But this is something that is more useful to us in Nigeria. When we export the aluminium, we later import chemicals to produce alum whereas this aluminium cans have alum content which we extracted into aluminium hydroxide and reacting it with sulphuric acid, we are able to produce alum that is useful for water treatment and others. Water works need alum to make water cleaner. We have been able to put all these together based on basic science coupled with research and development. We believe that is the function of education. Education should research and find new solutions to new problems.
“Right now, it is at a pilot scale. We can produce about 500 litres of kerosene and diesel per day. We are able to produce a trailer load of alum in two days. We will begin to offer the products in the next few days.
“We have approached the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for quality control and standardisation and they are happy to visit our factory.
“But we are not interested in producing in large scale. We are looking for factories or investors that will do that. We will just sell the licence to them and they can produce in large scale for Nigerians. They will end up helping our environment by ridding it of the wastes which have constituted nuisance all over the country. If we find people who are willing to finance the production, we will give them the licence and the know-how.
“We will serve as technical partners to them because these processes are not static. We went through various processes to arrive at where we are. That also tells us that we cannot stop at where we are today. We are never satisfied with whatever we achieve.
“Even for the kerosene and diesel, while we are saying it is a licensing model we are looking at whereby we will be involved continuously, we may find a better way of doing it. When we started we were using naked flame to heat. Now, we are using electric energy. That’s why we want to participate rather than just sell technology to users. Manufacturers will need to continue to upgrade the process. The same for the aluminium from cans. We are willing to participate so that continuously we can improve on the products.”
On sustainability, Bamgbose said plastic use had become part of modern life, meaning that they will continue to be there in large number. He added that the technology is completely home-made while the Nigerian population would continue to need the products.
After participating in the exhibition which also featured some educational materials, including software and other educational technological materials, the state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela, said the products developed by the firm showed that there was great future for Nigeria.