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E. C. Okoroigwe1,2, N. F. Oparaku1 and O.U. Oparaku1

National Centre for Energy Research and Development,
University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Enugu State, Nigeria
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State Nigeria.


As the world searches for solution to future possible global energy problems resulting from total
exhaustion of conventional energy resources and global warming due to huge carbon emission,
there is need for Nigeria to harness her renewable energy potentials. Biomass energy is the
energy derived from plant and animal materials. Biomass is the source of useful energy
resources such as: biogas, bio-ethanol, bio-diesel, bio-oil, producer gas, biomass briquettes,
bio-fertilizers etc, used for thermal and agricultural applications. It is renewable, inexhaustible,
environmentally friendly and readily available. Economic and industrial activities of mankind
generate huge wastes accruing from unused plant and animal remains which not only constitute
environmental hazards but have also created health problems in the areas where they are
deposited. Tremendous energy can be derived from these wastes which when integrated into
national energy mix will in no small measure enhance the economic, social and industrial
wellbeing of the human populace. Plant and animal biomass are capable of generating 204.43
and 933.9MWh of electricity per annum respectively if appropriate technology for their
conversion to energy is used. The technological requirement for biomass transformation is
simple and can be acquired with little formal education. In this paper the potential and
usefulness of the abundant and neglected biomass materials in Nigeria are reviewed and

1.0 Introduction

Energy availability and utilization has been nation can be traced to the amount of energy
the bedrock of economic and social available to her inhabitants. The energy
development of mankind since his origin. comes in different forms and sources which
The level of civilization and economy of any can be broadly classified into Renewable

246 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

and Non Renewable (conventional) sources. Nigeria is blessed richly with large deposits
Energy can be regarded to be renewable if of both aforementioned energy resources.
the rate of its exploitation and utilization
The overdependence on the conventional
almost corresponds to the rate of its
sources of energy as the only major source
replenishment and formation. Otherwise it is
of energy and power supply has left the
non renewable. All energy forms derived
country economically slow. Electrical power
from petroleum and coal make up the later.
supply and consumption in Nigeria is not
Its proposed exhaustion, high cost,
only epileptic but also very low. Currently,
environmental and health hazards associated
she generates 3797MW electricity (Iloeje,
to its use have given the entire world serious
2007) while her electricity consumption per
concern to search for alternative source of
capita was below 160kWh/cap by mid 2003
energy for present and future energy
(ECN, 2006). Her thermal energy
consumption comes mostly from fuel wood
Biomass is one such sources of solution to (for 90% of rural dwellers) and petroleum
current and future energy crises. Biomass is products kerosene and LPG (for majority
the accumulation of solar energy on earth in of urban dwellers). Fire wood (though
diverse forms which are readily available in biomass) is usually consumed naturally as
form of wood, energy crops, agricultural and wood by burning such that it contributes to
forest residues, animal wastes, wastes from total carbon emission.
food and allied industries etc. The whole
Biomass combustion is suitable for heat and
matter that make up the class of energy
power generation for household, industrial
source known as biomass has wide scope
and commercial energy supply. It is usually
that any energy resource other than fossil,
transformed before consumption rather than
wind, geothermal, photovoltaic and solar
using them as they appear in nature. A
thermal, can be classified as biomass. It is
number of customized equipment for R & D
abundantly available in nature (as green
exists. Such facilities include biodigesters,
vegetation and animals) and can be
pyrolyzers, diverse kinds of gasifiers,
generated by human socio-economic
distilleries etc. However, a variety of
activities such as agriculture.
commercial applications have been
developed and reported by reputable

247 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

scholars (Foscolo et al, 2007). Whereas into cellulose splitting, fat splitting and
internationally, BT has been widely protein splitting. At this stage
integrated into national and domestic, polysaccharides are hydrolyzed into
industrial energy mix (Marchaim, 1992), monosaccharide while protein is hydrolyzed
locally, it suffers social acceptance, poor into peptides or amino acids and fats into
technical know how, public awareness etc. glycerol and fatty acids. The long chain fatty
acids and aromatic amino acids are further
2.0 Biomass conversion processes and
acted upon by acetogenic bacteria eg
acetobacterium xylium, clostridium etc
The energy in biomass materials can be (Ananymous, 1989) to produce hydrogen,
harnessed by first transforming the materials acetic acids and carbon dioxide. During
through the following processes: methane producing stage, methanogenic

2.1 Anaerobic Digestion (AD) bacteria utilize the simple compounds

(acetic acid, hydrogen, formic acid and
This is the transformation process by which
carbon dioxide) to form methane, carbon
biological organisms (bacteria) are used to
dioxide and some trace gases such as
breakdown the carbohydrate component in
hydrogen sulphide. This forms the general
biomass material to release sugar that is
composition of biogas. The percentage of
further broken down to release biogas. The
methane (the only combustible part) in the
activities can be summarized into two main
biogas varies according to the type of
activities- non methane producing and
feedstock, retention time, temperature of the
methane producing processes (Okoroigwe,
fermenting medium etc involved in the
2005). The process of biomaterial
digestion process. About 60% 70%
fermentation is carried out by special
volume of methane has been recorded most
bacteria found in the stomach of ruminant
times. This makes the entire biogas burn
animals, lakes, manure pits, sewage and
completely without much sooth noticed. For
some organized sludge. During non methane
heating and cooking purposes the gas does
producing stage, fermenting bacteria secret
not need scrubbing to remove non
exoemzymes, by hydrolyzing organisms
combustible trace gases unless for the
whose variety vary with variety and quantity
purposes of use as fuel in internal
of organics involved. They are classified
combustion engines for power production.

248 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

CH1.4O0.6 + 0.4O2 + (1.5N2) 0.7CO +
0.3CO2 + 0.6H2 + 0.1H2O + (1.5N2)
2.2 Biomass Gasification and Pyrolysis
These are Thermo-chemical processes in Biomass + Heat Charcoal, oil, gas
which biomass materials are combusted in Oxidation (combustion):
oxygen starved (gasification) and non CO2 CO2; 2CO2 2CO; 2COO2
oxygen (pyrolysis) environment. The yields 2CO2; 2H2O2 2H2O
are chiefly gaseous or liquid fuels and bio- Reduction:
oil respectively. Several kinds of CH2O COH2; CCO2 2CO;
gasification exist depending on the C2H2 CH4

gasification agent employed. In Air Three primary products are obtained from
gasification, biomass is burned in limited pyrolysis of biomass. They are char,
supply of air to yield a low energy gas permanent gases, and vapors; that at ambient
containing mainly hydrogen, carbon temperature condense to a dark brown
monoxide, methane and non combustible viscous liquid. While pyrolysis of biomass
carbon dioxide, water vapour, tar and ash. has been practiced in some form for
This gas can be used to run power engines thousands of years, it wasnt until recently
or turbines. The heat value is about 4500- that the relationship between heat transfer
5500KJ/Nm3 or 4-5 MJ/Nm3 (Lin et al, rates into the biomass and product
2002, Foscolo et al, 2007). In controlled distribution yields were well understood
oxygen supply to gasification process, (Ringer et al, 2006).
oxygen gasification yields medium energy
2.3 Biofuel production.
gas that can be used for industrial processes.
Biofuel consists of two major types of fuels-
The gas can also be used to produce
Bioethanol and Biodiesel. There are two
methanol, gasoline, methane or hydrogen.
different procedures of producing biofuel
Similarly, under certain conditions of high
from biomass - one each for each of the
pressure and temperature biomass can be
biofuels. There are two key reactions that
converted to gaseous fuels using hydrogen
are involved in the production of
as agent in a hydrogen gasification. The
Bioethanol, one is hydrolysis and the other
main reactions are given below:
is fermentation. Producing Bioethanol
General reaction:
involves mixing sugar, water and yeast

249 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

bacteria together then allowed to ferment in unmodified engine. While it is usually
warm environment. Gradually the mixture derived from canola oil, jatropher, cotton
becomes a liquid that has some percentage seed etc, recycled fryer oil can also be used
alcohol. Then the liquid mash that is created to make it. It can be used in its pure form, or
is distilled and purified to get approximately even be mixed with regular diesel.
99.5% (Poushali, 2007) Bioethanol. A According to many environmentalists
general reaction equation for the whole (Putatunda, 2007), biodiesel is the fuel of
process can be represented thus: the future. Biodiesel fuel is also one of the
alternative fuels that have been tested the
C6H12O6 (glucose) 2CH3CH2OH
(ethanol) + 2CO2 (carbon dioxide). most thoroughly. And these tests have

Another method of producing bioethanol is shown that while biodiesel performs just as

from cellulosic biomass materials by use of well as petroleum diesel, it is a far more

specialized enzymes. Traditional cellulosic environment-friendly fuel. The processes

biomass conversion to ethanol is based on involved here is simply transesterification.

concentrated acid pretreatment followed by 2.4 Biomass briquette.

hydrolysis and fermentation. Three steps in
Briquetting is the process of reducing the
the process are (1) size reduction and thermo
void ratio of loose biomass materials by
chemical pretreatment of raw cellulosic
compression in the presence of heat. This
biomass to make cellulose polymers more
not only improves the heat value but also the
accessible to enzymatic breakdown and free
combustion efficiency of the fuels. The ash
up hemicellulosic sugars; (2) production and
content of the briquette is usually very low
application of special enzyme preparations
compared with the raw biomass material.
(cellulases) that hydrolyze plant cell-wall
The energy content of the biomass materials
polysaccharides, producing a mixture of
such as rice husk, straws, millet straw and
simple sugars; and (3) fermentation,
husk saw dust etc is usually improved. The
mediated by bacteria or yeast, to convert
heating flame and temperature during
these sugars to ethanol and other co-
cooking are better than in other renewable
products (DOE, 2006).
energy fuels.
Biodiesel is a fuel that is vegetable oil
3.0 Quantitative analysis of Nigerias
based, which can be used to run an

250 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

used for lumbering purposes. They include
The total land in a country available for
plant branches, leaves shrubs and grasses
agriculture and under vegetation is a
not directly put into use for anything.
measure of biomass generation in that
Industrial wastes classified as biomass are
country. Nigeria has a land area of about
those such as wood shavings (from wood
923 769km2 (FOS, 1989); a north-south
industries), spent grain from beverage and
length of about 1 450km and a west-east
food industries, oil sludge from palm oil
breadth of about 800km. Its total land
processing plants etc. Municipal solid
boundary is 4047km while the coastline is
wastes comprise all wastes from offices,
853km. According to Cleaver and Shreiber
markets and corner shops that constitute
(1994), (in Eroarome Martin
nuisance as can be seen as refuse heaps.
Aregheore 2005), the surface area of
Nigeria is 91.07 million hectares, 57 % of According to ECN,(2005), Garba (2004) and
which is believed to be either under crops or Odukwe and Enibe, (1988) Nigeria uses
pastures while the remaining 43 % is 43.4 x 107 kg of fuel wood annually for
divided amongst forest, water bodies and cooking and other domestic purposes.
other uses. Forage grasses and shrubs amount to about
200million tones of dry biomass (Bajpai et
The biomass potential of Nigeria include
al, 1986)
animal droppings, agricultural (crop)
residues, forestry, industrial wastes, Since the percentage of land in a country
municipal solid wastes (MSW) etc. animal used for agriculture contributes to the
wastes are dropping from cattle, goat, sheep, amount of biomass generated from
pigs, poultry, human beings etc. while agriculture, it has been reported that Nigeria
agricultural or crop residues are all wastes uses 71.9 million hectares or 77.8% of her
accruing after harvesting of useful parts of land for agriculture (ECN, 2005, Garba,
crops planted for food and beverages such as 2004) the table 1 below shows the
cereals, tuber crops, vegetables etc. Forestry distribution of Nigerias land area according
wastes result from the parts of plants not to its use.

251 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

Table 1: land use distribution in Nigeria

Land use Quantity (million ha) %

Agricultural land 71.9 77.8
Arable cropland 28.2 30.5
Permanent cropland 2.5 2.7
Pasture land 28.3 30.6
Forest and woodland 10.9 11.6
Fadama 2.0 2.2
Others 7.5 8.1

Source: ECN, (2005) and Garba, (2004) as The table 2 below gives the annual
obtained from Federal Ministry of population of some common livestock in
Agriculture (FMA). millions. A population growth rate of 3.2%
per annum, from FMA, has been used to
From livestock alone, the country is capable
make estimates from 1996 to 2011
of generating enormous wastes which are
usually used as manure in crop production.

Table 2: Population of some common farm animals (millions)

Animal type 5 yearly estimate of number of animals (millions)
1996 2001 2006 2011
Cattle 18.1 21.0 24.4 28.3
Sheep 33.2 38.5 44.7 51.9
Goat 53.8 62.4 72.4 84.0
Pig 8.3 9.6 11.1 12.9
Poultry 97.3 112.9 131.0 152.0

The waste production per animal per day anything. It only constitutes nuisance as
differs in different places with the feeding sewage, pit latrine and open air litter in
and management system used. An average some places. These are not only sources of
human being produces about 0.5kg /day of pathogen but also environmental pollutants.
fresh waste as dung. By Nigerias Biomass potential of Nigeria includes plant
population of 140 million (official gazette, materials from cultivated crops. The table 3
2006) an estimated average of 70.0 million below shows crop production by types of
kg/day of human waste can be generated in major cultivated species. These figures
Nigeria. This is not usually used for however did not include quantities of stalks,

252 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

roots leaves and woody components usually the quantity of biomass from plant materials.
left behind after harvests. These also add to

Table 3: Production Statistics of some Major Crops (MT)

Crop type 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 *Ave
Maize('000) 6931 5667 5254 5127 5476 4107 4620 4934 5150 5150 5242
Millet ('000) 5563 5881 5902 5956 5960 6105 5530 6100 6100 6100 5920
Sorghum('000) 6997 7084 7297 7516 7520 7711 7081 7704 8100 8100 7511
Rice ('000) 2920 3122 3268 3275 3277 3298 2752 3192 4952 4952 3501
Cassava ('000) 31404 31418 32050 32695 32697 32010 32586 34476 33379 33379 32609
Yam ('000) 22818 23201 23972 24768 25873 26201 26374 26849 27000 27000 25406
Peanut ('000) 1579 2278 2531 2534 2894 2901 2683 2699 2700 2700 2550
Soyabeans('000) 287 322 361 403 410 429 436 437 484 484 405
Melon ('000) 287 317 330 330 338 345 348 347 347 347 264
Mangoes ('000) 631 656 689 731 729 730 730 730 730 730 709
Coconut ('000) 149 151 152 152 158 160 161 161 161 161 157
Rubber ('000) 125 130 120 120 107 107 108 112 142 142 121
Cotton lint ('000) 95 116 130 135 145 147 148 150 140 140 135
Cotton seed 153 183 208 212 236 247 248 250 250 250 224
Cashew nut('000) 95 110 125 152 176 184 185 186 186 186 159

Source: Eroarome (2005) * column added by authors

According to Kofoworola, (2007), Lagos Nigerias forestry generates wastes that add
state alone generates approximately 4milion to the biomass available in the country.
tones of MSW per day. This gives about Woody biomass such as Gmelina, rubber,
1.1kg/cap/day. Extrapolating with Nigerias cashew, mango citrus etc add to the quantity
population, about 0.154 million tones of of biomass produced. In a report, (Hitofumi,
MSW per day can be produced. These are 2007 and Chijioke, 1980) about 21.0 tons/ha
usually deposited as refuse heaps at markets of Gmelina arborea is produced per year.
and street corners. The tropical climate of Nigeria favours the
growth and production of energy crops such

253 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

as cassava, corn, sugarcane, poplar, switch volume bomb calorimeter. The heating value
grass, water hyacinth and jatropher which in kJ/kg oven dry mater is given as -8419.7
can be used to produce biofuels (ethanol & + 479.3 x C + 667.6xH + 58.8 1207.7xS
biodiesel) for automobiles. From the fore (Lin et al, 2002). The table 4 below gives
going it can be generally observed that the the HHV in MJ/kg of some common
country is abundantly endowed with enough biomass materials found in Nigeria.
biomass resources that will adequately
An utilization factor of 0.7 is used to obtain
support the technology of converting
available energy from biomass materials
biomass to useful energy for the
while a conversion factor of 3.6MJ of
enhancement of lives of her population as
thermal energy to 1kWh is also used
well as earn her foreign exchange in near
(Rao & Parulekar 2004).
Biogas yield of some common farm animals
4.0 Energy content of some biomass
and human beings are given in the table 5
The energy content of biomass materials is
obtained like coal using adiabatic, constant
Table 4: Energy values of some common crop materials
Sample HHV Available Electrical energy Ave. Total Energy
(MJ/kg) energy equivalent annual Equivalent
(MJ/kg) (kWh/kg) prod (MT) (MWh)/yr
Corn cobs 18.90 13.23 3.68 5242 19.30
Corn stalks 18.30 12.81 3.56 5242 18.66
Cotton gin trash 1.40 0.98 0.27 135 0.04
Cotton stalks 15.80 11.10 3.08 224 0.69
Peanut husk 19.70 13.79 3.83 2550 9.77
Rice husk 15.00 10.50 2.92 3501 10.22
Sorghum stalk 18.02 12.61 3.50 7511 26.29
Cashew nut shell 23.62 16.53 4.59 159 0.73
Coconut shell 18.56 13.00 3.61 157 0.57
Cassava stem 18.59 13.01 3.61 32609 117.72
Hevea 18.89 13.22 3.67 121 0.44
TOTAL 204.43
HHV values from: Lin et al 2002 and Hitofumi et al, 2007.

254 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

Table 5: Energy value of wastes of some common animals and human beings
Animal Biogas Average daily Average annual Heating Estimated Estimated
type yield waste waste value thermal energy electrical energy
(m3/kg) production rate production (MJ/m3) (MJ/year/animal) by
(kg/day/animal) (kg/year/animal) (MWh)/yr/animal
Cattle 0.025 34.00 1241.00 20.2 626.7 174.1
Sheep 0.042 1.50 548.0 20.2 464.9 129.1
Goat 0.042 1.50 548.0 20.2 464.9 129.1
Pig 0.045 5.00 1825.0 20.2 1658.9 460.6
Poultry 0.075 0.10 36.5 20.2 55.3 15.4
Human 0.025 0.50 182.5 20.2 92.2 25.6
Total 4381.0 933.9

5.0. Contribution of biomass to national prospects of BT especially in developing

economic development. nations. About 544kg bale of switchgrass
can produce 182 Litres of ethanol at
As Nigeria pays attention to development of
conversion rate of 303 Litres per ton. The on
her biomass technology, there lie great
farm yield of Switchgrass is usually 5 to 6
prospects for economic sustainability of the
tons per acre corresponding to 1514 1893L
present and future generation. Employment
per acre. With advances in research, yield of
and poverty reduction are usually major
switchgrass can be improved to 379L per
benefits that this technology holds. For
ton or 3790L per acre (DOE, 2006). This is
example in Nigeria where the sawlog
good news to automobile industry as well as
production rate is 6,240,000 m3 per annum,
investors in ethanol production and trading
it has been estimated that about 40,600
people are employed in tree felling and
transportation, while 160,800 labourers are Biomass is the solution to energy crises of
employed per annum in primary log the future generation. The tables 4&5 show
processing. (Fuwape, 2003). The production the electricity generation capacity of both
of biomass materials through farming plant and animal materials. Plant biomass is
activities can provide employment and capable of generating 204.43MWh of
increased farm output. Income generation by electricity per annum while animal waste is
sale of biomass is assured as well. capable of yielding 933.9MWh per annum.
These figures however, will increase if all
Improvement in energy and power available
plant materials other than useful parts are
to man can be regarded as the major

255 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

converted to energy use while animal 2002, Tripathi, 1990; Lovic, 1989;
production increases by 3.2% per annum. Kudeyarava, 1989). The benefit to
Community based biodigesters can supply enhancing the environment by pathogen and
thermal energy needs of that community. odor reduction cannot be neglected.
Biogas can be used as fuel in stationery and
China and India are supplementing the
mobile engines, to supply motive power,
cooking and electrical energy needs of her
pump water, drive machinery (grinders and
large population living in rural communities,
threshers etc) or generate electricity.
through biomass gasification. When a
Approximately, 0.75m3 of biogas is required
conversion factor of 3.6MJ of thermal to
per kilowatt-hour (Marchaim, 1992) in dual
1kwh of electrical energy is used to relate
fuel diesel engines. It has also been shown
the energy potentials of the plant materials
that a family of six requires about 2.9m3/day
in tables 3 & 4, it could be shown that
(Marchaim, 1992) of biogas for their
enormous thermal and electrical energy
cooking needs. There is more to AD of
required to meet the energy needs of
animal wastes than biogas production. In
Nigerias rural communities can be
addition to the above benefit as energy
generated through gasification without
source for industrial and domestic
depending on national grid. Even though the
applications, BT is potentially useful in the
cost of generating electricity through
recycling of nutrients back to the soil. The
combustion of MSW may be higher than the
digested slurry (biofertilizer) is very rich in
use of fossil fuels, but the unquantifiable
plant and soil nutrients. This has been
benefits of the technology such as
proved to increase the yield in crop
environmental cleanliness, health
production in comparison with the raw
improvement etc can be another reason for
manure applied to the farm without
the advocating of the technology
undergoing AD. It compares favourably
with chemical fertilizer in crop yield, Conclusion

(Okoroigwe, et al 2008, Okoroigwe, 2007b, In as much as few designs have been made
Eboatu et al 2006, Oparaku, 2006) and for AD and biomass briquetting in some
leaves the soil structure intact but the later places within Nigeria, a lot more are still to
has been shown to have adverse effects on be done to integrate these and other biomass
soil (Godson et al, 2002; Ana and Sridhar, technologies such as gasification/pyrolysis,

256 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

bioethanol and biodiesel productions etc, deposits there is still need to harness the
into daily energy mix in homes, small abundant biomass resources to augment the
industries and communities in Nigerians. inadequate supply of these fuels. She should
Biomass can meet the energy needs of many join the rest of the world to utilize the
Nigerians by 2020 if appropriate technology benefits of biomass gasification and biofuel
is adapted for its transformation. Even production.
though she is blessed with enough fossil fuel

257 Nigerian Society of Engineers, YANKARI 2008

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