Obafemi Awolowo University and the 2021 AIChE Chemical Engineering for Good Challenge (ACE4G)

Pictured above are the Obafemi Awolowo University Student Chapter members. Left to right from top: Abraham Osinuga, Clinton Erhirhi, Ganiyu Adebayo, Babatunde Adedeji, Oyindamola Aladelo, David Akomolafe

AIChE Chemical Engineering for Good Challenge, also known as ACE4G, is a competition to encourage chemical engineering students and their partners to consider how chemical engineering know-how can be appropriately applied on a small scale to improve the quality of life for communities in the developing world. 

Obafemi Awolowo University’s AIChE Student Chapter won second place in this year’s competition with their submission “Utilizing Biogas Generation: A Sustainable Means for Power Generation in Rural Communities.”

We caught up with their student chapter president, Clinton Erhirhi, to learn more about their competition idea, what inspired them to enter the competition, and what they learned in the process.

How did you come up with the idea for your competition submission, “Utilizing Biogas Generation: A Sustainable Means for Power Generation in Rural Communities”?

Like many developing nations around the world, Nigeria is plagued with increasing energy demand despite the negative impacts of fossil fuels on climate change. Emerging economies (mostly non-oil-producing states) are largely dependent on the oil price fluctuation as this translates to the price of energy supplied. However, countless tons of waste are generated daily from different processes, both polymeric and agricultural waste.

At first, we decided to put away these polymeric wastes using pyrolysis technology, but after critical analysis, we found out that it is highly energy-intensive and does not directly benefit the target communities (rural areas). Subsequently, we had to consider agricultural waste since its product directly affects energy efficiency and contributes to seamless operations in this agronomic community while the environment is devoid of waste. Therefore, this project looked more exciting because it addressed affordable and clean energy and zero hunger, which is part of the 17 SDGs proposed by the United Nations.

We had to consider extensively the feasibility of generating enough biogas through established processes and how it can be effectively utilized using relevant technologies.

Do you think that the technology you recommended could be implemented on a larger scale?

Yes, the technology is strongly recommended on a larger scale. However, it would depend on multiple factors, including the availability of suitable feed-stock, re-design calculations to ensure the bio-digesters can sufficiently feed the generators continuously, depending on the scale of energy demand. In addition, to increase energy efficiency, emerging energy storage facilities can be introduced.

What inspired you to enter this competition?

ACE4G has always been a platform to express the chemical engineering instincts in us. We have understudied the competition and the quality of submissions over the years. However, with everyone working from home due to COVID-19, we formed a team and met virtually every week to discuss our progression until the final submission.

What were some of the highlights of working on this competition with your team members? Did you learn anything new in this process?

The most excellent highlight of working on this competition with my team members would be the soft skills and chemistry we acquired along the way. Each team member contributed as they were entrusted with individual tasks and were eager to accept constructive criticism and suggestions. As a result, we were able to proffer solutions for each problem we faced. And when had a hectic schedule as school resumed, the team came through by meeting late hours.

The whole process, with teamwork, leaned towards improved critical interpersonal skills such as leadership, teamwork, and effective communication.

2021 ACE4G Challenge

The second cycle of the 2021 ACE4G Challenge is now open for registrations. For more information about the ACE4G Challenge, contact Alan Zagoria at ace4g@aiche.org and visit this page regularly for updated information.

Learn more about the competition and register today.

Connect with Obafemi Awolowo University student chapter president Clinton Erhirhi.