The Department of Chemical Engineering of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, has established a refinery with capacity to process one barrel of crude oil per day.
The team leader of the project, Professor Ibrahim Ali Muhammad Dabo told our correspondent who visited the refinery site that at present the refinery would be used mainly for the training of students, although the department had the manpower to build a refinery that would be bigger than that of Kaduna if it had government support.
“The initial idea was to construct a 1,000 barrel-capacity refinery, but lack of funding limited us to this one, where we would now be refining one barrel per day,” Dabo said, adding that more than 80 per cent of the materials used for the construction of the refinery were sourced locally.
“Only the controls were sourced from Hong Kong. No expatriate was hired from abroad. All those that were engaged in this project are Nigerians. Therefore, this mini refinery is a product of Nigerian brains. If government can come in, we have the ability to do wonderful things, not only refinery.
This is our training and it is what our department is meant for,” he said.He explained that beside the land and fencing that ABU provided, the project cost only about N20 million.
Professor Dabo further stated that the idea of the mini refinery was conceived about 15 years back, but work commenced fully in the year 2011.
Authorities of the Ahmadu Bello University worked secretly to build a refinery expected to produce one barrel of crude oil per day. Findings showed that they kept the project a secret in order to avoid unnecessary distractions.
With the cooperation of the university management, a special security team was deployed to the site of the refinery. Since the commencement of the work in 2011, movement around the area was restricted.
After the successful completion of the work and the first test-run of the refinery, the developers, who are from the Department of Chemical Engineering of the school, decided to make the project open; hence the news.
The team leader of the project, Professor Ibrahim Ali Muhammad Dabo, said it was necessary to keep their work secret in order to avoid disruption and copy-cats.
“You know, this is the first refinery to be constructed by any university in Nigeria. We had to keep our work to our chest because we had a goal to achieve. If we had allowed intruders, there were the possibilities of disruption. Apart from that, it is always important in academics for one to keep one’s original ideas to oneself. On achieving the set goals, he can now allow the public to benefit from these ideas, but they remain his contribution to knowledge,” Professor Dabo said.
Trained at the Oil and Gas University, Russia, Professor Dabo was born and bred in Kano State. He had both his primary and secondary education there. After his PhD in Russia, he worked briefly in the university and later worked at the Moscow refinery before he returned to Nigeria and took up a teaching appointment at the ABU.
Professor Dabo said the idea of the mini-refinery was conceived about 15 years ago, but work commenced fully in 2011.
“Actually, I met the idea of this refinery when I joined the ABU. Our department specializes on chemical aspect of engineering. However, work commenced fully in 2011. With gratitude to Allah, I led the team that executed this work,” Dabo said.
He explained that presently, the mini-refinery was meant for the training of students, but with government support, the department has the capacity to build a refinery that would be bigger than Kaduna refinery.
The head, Department of Chemical Engineering, Dr. Saidu Muhammad Waziri, said the completion of the refinery in ABU had proved the talent of Nigerians, saying that what Nigerian professionals require is the right environment and support.
Other members of the ABU community interviewed by Daily Trust on Sunday urged the federal government to utilize this breakthrough to achieve its technological goals.
Engineer Umar Adamu Musa, an electrical engineer in the Estate Department, described the completion of the mini-refinery as “a joyous” moment for all Nigerian engineers.
Some years back, Professor Idris Bugaje, the present director-general of the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT), supervised a PhD student at ABU to construct a water treatment plant using moringa seeds, but that breakthrough is yet to be fully utilized. Also, results of many researches in the university are yet to be utilized.
Source: Daily Trust