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A new form of renewable energy research is underway at the University of Lagos’ department of botany, which seeks to harness the huge opportunity of microalgae in the energy mix.

Dr Adesalu Taofikat Abosede is undertaking the research on the procedure, which is cited to support other forms of renewable energy in solving Nigeria’s electricity supply challenges.

Abosede, informed the media that direct saponification-esterification conversion (DSEC) can be used to convert microalgae into biodiesel in a cost-effective manner. DSEC has the potential, when commercialised, to provide a new world of opportunities for clean, alternative energy in Nigerian homes, especially in rural areas, stated the university lecturer.

According to Abosede: “As a physiologist, 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 commercialised.”

She explained that the production of biodiesel from microalgae is a known fact and that some international communities 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 commented that 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.

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.”

Abosede stressed the importance of the cumulative impact and benefits this renewable energy source can deliver. “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.”

According to Abosede, the report of this research shows that in future Nigerians will have options for generating electricity either through sun, water, gas, wastes, microalgae or higher plants. “My expectation is that corporate 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.”