Research & Devt: Winners emerge at Innovator/Inventor Exhibition & Award

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By Ebele Orakpo

The final of the maiden  edition of Innovation/Invention Exhibition and Award took place at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja last week. At the end of the event organised by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST), Berekotry Detergent Limited emerged the grand prize winner of N1,000,000.00 (one million naira) and a plaque, followed by Nigeria Air Force Technology Institute, Kaduna, and tied at the third position were two Aba-based outfits – National Animal Research and Best Nigeria Ltd.

The winning invention was the Oil spill solution from Berekotry. According to the inventor,Engr. Taslim Owonikoko, CEO/Head, Research & Development of Berekotry; “Nigeria is a major producer of crude oil but the bad side of crude oil exploration is the negative environmental impact of oil spillage. This product was targeted at really impacting the oil and gas industry. We have been able to tap from agriculture to impact other aspects of the economy.

“We are lagging behind in the areas of oil exploration, manufacturing and the rest, but we should be able to do something in clearing the mess made by oil exploration with our own local technology. It is interesting to know that our solution is not tied to imported input,” he had said in an interview with Vanguard last year.

An unmanned aerial vehicle designed and built at the Air Force Institute of Technology on display during the event.

An unmanned aerial vehicle designed and built at the Air Force Institute of Technology on display during the event.

Interestingly, Owonikoko says all the raw materials used in production of the oil spill cleaner are from agricultural waste. “We are talking of those things we burn down on the farms after harvest – corn cobs, groundnut shells, rice husks etc. Fortunately, these things are well distributed all over Nigeria so if we put these things to full commercial usage, the plant can be sited anywhere in Nigeria. We already got our intellectual property covered with the patent issued by the Nigerian Patent Office and it is even attracting a lot of international attention,” he had told Vanguard.

“The incredible thing about this solution is that based on the information we got from the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), we got to know that the imported enzymatic cleaning agent takes between 11 and 12 months to clean oil spill especially in the riverine areas but our own solution cleans within just 10 minutes. You can see the difference – 12 months to 10 minutes,” he stated.

The second prize went to Nigeria Air Force Technology Institute, Kaduna, for their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV, the Drone. This feat was accomplished by some young officers from the Nigerian Air Force School of Engineers, Aircraft Design Centre, Kaduna under the direct supervision of the Provost of the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology, Prof. Emmanuel Ezugwu.

According to officials of the institute, the drone which was a three-year effort in collaboration with Cranfield University, UK and funds from the Federal Government, could fly non-stop for about four hours at 3,000 feet and has a rear empennage of about three metres while the wing span is about half a metre.

In an earlier chat with Vanguard, the officials had said the UAV was designed and built to meet Nigeria’s pressing needs in the area of security. The vehicle, according to them, can be used in pipeline monitoring, border patrol, mapping and disaster monitoring, maritime patrol, aerial surveillance and pest monitoring.

Practice, they say, makes perfect and so officials of the institute said the first vehicle was called Amebo 1 while the second called Amebo 2 is an improvement over the first.

“If we keep getting the right support as we are getting now, we will accomplish our mission for the country,” they said, adding; “In fact, in the next five years, we may start building our own light aircraft for training new pilots.”

The exhibition which took place in Kaduna (22nd –23rd); Aba (25th –26th) and Lagos (29th – 30th) January 2013, was physically assessed at each of the venues by a team made up of accomplished entrepreneurs and academics.

According to the organisers of the event, the exhibition was “designed to showcase the capacity of the Nigerian educational and research institutions, private innovators and industries to respond to national developmental needs, especially within the context of the Transformation Agenda of the present administration.

“Entries were assessed for ingenuity and applicability to real industry problems prevalent in the Nigerian environment; ease of mass production and commercialisation potential and novelty and originality of the research/innovation output.”

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