Botanist leads innovative research on renewable energy using microalgae

A lecturer in the Department of Botany, University of Lagos, Dr. Adesalu Taofikat Abosede, has said that Nigeria has a huge opportunity to deploy microalgae for renewable energy if ongoing research on the procedure is supported to explore other forms of renewable energy in solving Nigeria’s electricity supply challenges.

Adesalu, who disclosed this in a recent chat with journalists, said direct saponification-esterification conversion (DSEC) can be used to convert microalgae into biodiesel in a cost-effective manner, and that its commercialization can provide a new world of opportunities for clean, alternative energy in Nigerian homes, especially in rural areas.

According to her, “As a phycologist, I have always been on the path of solving one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through research using microalgae but due to financing, many of those proposals were just there, not being commercialized. As regards production of biodiesel from microalgae, it is a known fact that some parts of the developed world have started using products from such research. It is also a known fact that Nigeria and Africa, in general, are endowed with natural resources in which micro and microalgae are among. So, I decided to use these untapped natural resources for the production of biodiesel since we have them abundant in our water bodies.”

On the materials needed for the procedure, she said the major organism needed is microalgae, which are readily available and accessible in Nigerian waters, in addition to reagents and equipment, which are, at small-scale level of production, not too expensive.

She said the research would help in cleaning the environment by “reducing the carbon dioxide in the environment (one of the greenhouse gases) because the organisms make use of carbon dioxide for the process of photosynthesis and then release oxygen to the environment for animals and human respiration, and other processes that require oxygen.

“Another impact is that if the environment is clean, there probably will be less case of diseases which then reduces the number of time people will visit the hospital, then the productive hours will increase, which will positively affect productivity and this will impact the economy on the long run. The cumulative impact will be enormous and all will benefit from it.”

According to her, “The report of this research clearly showed that in future, Nigerians will have options for generating electricity either through sun, water, gas, wastes, microalgae or higher plants. So my expectation is that cooperate institutions and the federal government will invest in it by way of sponsoring this research, because of the immense benefits we are going to derive from using it.”

“There are many. As much as they make use of fossil fuels, this is an alternative that is better and environment-friendly. With the quantity produced now, because of the unavailability of funds, those in homes and rural areas will probably be the one for now. For instance, the biodiesel produced was used to start and run a vulcanizer machine, but it can be expanded to accommodate more when been funded,” she added.

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Adesalu Taofikat Abosede
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