The power revolution everybody has been waiting for

By Editor on 02/01/2017

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Power generation

Archimedes was a Greek scientist, who lived in Syracuse, Italy, more than 2000 years ago. His story is as interesting as it is legendry. The King of the land, King Hiero II, wanted to wear a Golden Crown. He gave some gold to a goldsmith to make a suitable crown. After few days, the goldsmith brought the finished crown to the King. The crown was weighed. The weight of the crown was equal to the gold given to the goldsmith by the King. The King looked at the colour of the crown. He had a suspicion. The goldsmith could have stolen some gold from the one given to him and added silver to make up. The King wanted to find out the truth. He asked his court scientist Archimedes to find out. The King said, “Find out how much gold had been stolen?" 

How to find out the truth? Archimedes thought about the problem day and night, since he could neither melt or destroy the crown. One day he was about to have his bath, but he was busy thinking. He did not notice the bathtub. The water in the bathtub was already full to the brim. He slid into the bathtub. Immediately a large quantity of water flowed over the brim of the bath tub. He noticed this suddenly. His brain wave worked suddenly. He jumped out of the bathtub, shouting, “Eureka! Eureka!" Eureka in Greek means “I have found it."

For practical purposes water is incompressible, so the submerged crown would displace an amount of water equal to its own volume. By dividing the mass of the crown by the volume of water displaced, the density of the crown could be obtained. This density would be lower than that of gold if cheaper and less dense metals had been added. So, Eureka!

Today, that same scenario appears to be playing out in Nigeria. Though it is coming in a different hue, but its impact is far more significant than that event 2,000 years ago.

For decades now, Nigeria has been searching for a solution to its power situation. Little children have learnt Neeepaaa, NEPA (National Electricity Power Authority), as it then was, as their first words, because that is what they hear their parents say, whenever power went off and on, as was the case several years ago, and is still usually the case now. Governments had come and gone. So, have individuals, all trying to churn out different options and templates to solve the problem. But nothing seems to have worked.

However, something significant appears to have happened on the scene quite recently that could make Nigerians leap out in the streets shouting Eureka!

Image result for chinedu nebo


It has been silent, but could be likened to a quiet revolution. But it has the propensity to change everything. Indeed, it looks like the jolt in the arm the country, buffeted, pummelled and almost crippled by a myriad of economic, social and even political malaise needs to pull itself up by the boots-strap to claim the God-given place not only as the much-advertised giant of Africa, but become a world economic power.

This is because, the prostrate state of Nigeria’s economy and concomitant and vicarious effects, have rightly been directly linked to the sorry state of electricity supply.

Therefore, should what is in the offering work, there is no doubt that the drums will be rolled out to celebrate the end of a dark era, figuratively and literally. And what celebration it would be in all parts of the country?

That, perhaps, informed the enthusiasm at the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology on December 5, 2016.

Seated in the large hall was the full complement of the top management of the Ministry, led by the Minister, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, while leading his own team, was Professor Chinedu Nebo, the immediate past Minister of Power. The mission was for the former Minister to brief Onu of what could present the most practical and workable option so far to the nation’s electricity problems.

In what seems to give impetus to the saying that the most valuable things come in small packages, Nebo unfolded the option of the Power Seed Web (PSW) technology. It is a technology that takes very little and gives so much returns. The bang was Nebo had come with, was that for the first time in the history of the country, electricity consumers would have 24-hour power supply at the cost of less than 50 per cent of what they are currently paying. The PSW was actually developed on the philosophy of doing less with the giant, money-guzzling and time-wasting power plants that have been beset by a lot of crisis, using the alternative of very small, manageable but viable operations.    


Nebo explains: “Before I ended my tenure as Federal Minister of Power, I had chanted to all who wanted to listen that the big power machines, those mighty turbines that are several hundreds of megawatts capacity may take decades to solve Nigeria’s power problems. And for that reason, we needed to do a lot of embedded generation – small scale power generators that will saturate the entire landscape of our country and help to bring about industrial revolution, by making power available at the beck and call of our people. This is science and technology at its best. This was actually developed by someone else, a member of our engineering team. It is a very viable, very formidable engineering that we have developed. God is using some of us with incredible knowledge and insight to come up technology that is, may be 10-15 years ahead of the global power delivery system today.

What are the results? From a layman’s perspective, we have designed, constructed and tested a power seed web machine that uses the same quantity of fuel, needed to generate a small capacity generator to generate 10 times or more what ordinarily was possible. For instance, the one we have done, the fuel consumption of our machine is not up to a 25kilowatts. But we are able to produce 250kilowatts of power and with the possibility and potential of producing 1megawatts. We are cut to 1megawatts, we can do a lot more than that but because of licensing issue.

“However, technically, using our innovation or our innovative technical design, we have been able to use, in our own terminology a Power Ovary Primary Source, - that’s our own terminology, coupled with our designed electromechanical and mechatronic gadget to produce what we term, Power Seeds that through iterations have the potentials to produce power outputs in huge multiples of the input fuels and power.

“For instance, the fuel needed now for 25kilowatts of power, we can use it to produce 250kilowatts, no problem, we’ve tested it with primarily, but not on a continuous basis with 500kilowatts, no problem, because this is a seed web design. It webs out. These things are available and empirically tested and designed.

“The implications are mindboggling. Number one, homes, businesses, industries, villages, agricultural clusters, manufacturing clusters, industrial clusters, schools, hospitals, campuses, you name it, can now get electricity at much less expenses.

“Take for example, you have one of those mighty generators consuming 100litres an hour and our system will use only 20litres an hour, you save 80litres an hour and in one hour, you save 160,000, in a day, maybe you run for 10hours, you save 1.6million, you can imagine the impact this will have on the society. So, the days of the big size generators are numbered, as our innovative machines can save up to 80 per cent of the fuel needed to run them.

“Next, we have also designed and tested a power ovary machine and seed, driven by 100 per cent renewable energy. In other words, we have also designed one that doesn’t need fossil fuel or any non-renewable fuel to drive. That will be the next level production of our innovation and the implications are astounding – clean, cheap electricity, produced by machines, made in Nigeria, by Nigerian engineers. And this can be used for embedded generation in every part of Nigeria.” That simple.

Breaking the operation further, he told reporters that all a community, industrial, residential and other clusters, including estates needed do, was to mount the equipment on a truck or elsewhere at strategic positions to enjoy 24-hour power supply.

Already, plans are underway, according to him, to test-run the technology in a few weeks, in some select university communities, preparatory to moving it into all parts of the country.  

Palpably excited, Onu, who described the development as quite futuristic, promised to escalate it to the highest quarters for it to get the desired support from a Nigerian government eager to transform the economy and save the people the nightmares that have currently become their story.

“I’m so excited. I feel very happy that this level of innovation is coming at this time when the nation is getting ready to make sure that we generate enough electricity to be able to power our industries, because this administration is very anxious to make sure that we create jobs and be in a position to move our economy from being resource-based to knowledge-based – innovation-driven economy. We have seen, since independence that our economy had depended on commodities. At independence, it was agricultural products. After that our dependence on petroleum was as high as 94 per cent. This has created a lot of problems for us as a nation, because the sad thing is that we can neither determine the price of these commodities nor even if there is a rise, how much that could last. So, it becomes very difficult for planning. So, whenever there is a sharp drop in the price of commodities in the international market, the shock is too much for us to bear and it normally results to recession for us. But if the basket is big, with so many items there – commodities and other items, then we will be in a position to make up if there is such a sharp drop.

“And power is very important if you are moving into a knowledge economy. It is extremely important. I give you an example: By 1962, Nigeria and South Korea were exporting essentially, commodities. But 50 years after, Nigeria continued exporting commodities, but South Korea had moved ahead. They were now exporting cars, not even assembled cars, but cars manufactured in South Korea. We are not surprised that you are doing this, because you’re one of our brightest minds and you have been a leader.

“So, we are very excited that you left office and still continued with research and innovation, which again is the bedrock for building a knowledge-based economy. So, you’re somebody that we’re very proud of. I believe that you’re a role model that so many Nigerians will have to learn from.

“I want to assure you that this Ministry, will support this effort. We will support it because it is in the best interest of the nation. This is what we want to see happen. We want to be in a position to see how we revolutionise how we do things in this nation.

“What you’ve done is very brilliant. You see, technology, if you like, has its own ideology. The automobile industry in American they were looking for luxury. They wanted very big cars that consumed a lot of energy. American cars in those days used to be very long and quite spacious. If you enter there, you can sleep and do everything, but you may not be able to get 10 miles out of one gallon, because they use gallon and not litres. But the Japanese thought differently. The Japanese saw the future, where more people would become wealthy, they would need vehicles, then the need for crude oil would be higher and the price would go up in the economics of supply and demand. So, they now decided to design smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. After a little while, there was crisis in the Middle East and the prices of crude oil quadrupled overnight. You could now buy the American cars but to maintain it became a problem. Where would you get the money to buy the gasoline?

“So, I think this is exactly what you’re doing here. That’s why we must support you. This matter will be taken up at certain levels, so that the support will be there and even for the love of nation.

“So, there are two requests that I make of you. I know that you’re very patriotic – that this your innovation, which is really very important – that you should try to protect here and use it here. We don’t want a situation where very brilliant ideas made by Nigerians are exported and other people benefit more from it.  You must protect this intellectual property. It is very important. It is very important that Nigeria will have maximum benefits, because this is science, technology and innovation at its very best.”

Are Nigerians about to experience their own power revolution, something countries like neighbouring Ghana have achieved several years ago? Is this Eureka? The wait may not be too long.






Posted on January, 2 2017

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