Methanol Tech Policy: Need to control climate change, drive economic growth




Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology launched a policy for methanol development technology to help control and boost Nigeria’s economy. BINTA SHAMA reports.

Research states that methanol, also known as methyl alcohol amongst other names, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH. Methanol is considered as an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. As an engine fuel, methanol has chemical and physical fuel properties similar to ethanol.

This fuel is generally produced by steam-reforming natural gas to create a synthesis gas. Feeding this synthesis gas into a reactor with a catalyst produces methanol and water vapor. Various feedstock is said to produce methanol, and it  is currently the most economical.

Benefit of methanol

Methanol can be an alternative to conventional transportation fuels. There are three levels of benefits of methanol namely: ‘Lower production costs’, which methanol is said to be cheap to produce relative to other alternative fuels. The second one is ‘Improved safety’, where methanol has a lower risk of flammability compared to gasoline. And lastly, ‘Increased energy security’, where methanol can be manufactured from a variety of carbon-based feedstock, such as natural gas and coal. Its use could help reduce fuel use while advancing domestic fuels.

The introduction of methanol

The federal government via the Ministry of Science and Technology, launched a policy of methanol development technology.

According to the Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, that the newly launched policy of methanol development technology is fully in line with international resolutions, which primarily includes the Paris Agreement, that nations should take step to drastically reduce carbon emission and pollution.

“During the just concluded 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Muhammadu Buhari pledged Nigeria’s determination to comply with international resolutions on environmental protection and reduction of gas emissions.”

 He explained the need to embrace the importance of methanol to Nigeria’s fortunes, “because its composition is environmentally friendly and costs less than other sources of natural energy, which would boost people’s economic fortunes.”

Methanol as an investment

Onu further stated that the policy is aimed at further expanding the nation’s chemical industry, which is currently at a low ebb. The policy, he added would help in the chemical value-chain feed-stock, to produce adhesives and other useful gasses.

“This policy will create a more investment friendly environment, especially in the oil and gas stream sub-sector.”  

The minister disclosed that Nigeria is sitting on  199.09 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves according to DPR annual report in 2017, adding that this would immensely turn around the economic fortunes of Nigeria.  

“The policy will further expand the chemical industry value chain,  by replacing  kerosene as household cooking fuel, contribute to efficient and effective transportation system, mitigation, improve electricity generation, and in the process diversify and grow the economy.”

The FMST boss added by appealing to foreign investors to take advantage of the methanol development technology policy,  to invest and build industries around the Methanol value chain, create job opportunities for the teeming youths of Nigeria, and also, drive the diversification policy of this present administration.

Research work to diversify the economy

In line with the minister’s strategic steps to  achieve a greater economy for the nation by diversifying to boost the economy, he has challenged researchers on economic diversification.

The minister,  while delivering a lecture titled “Economic Diversification and National Development in Nigeria: The Role of Science and Technology” to participants of Course 28 at National Defence College, recently in Abuja, called on  researchers in the field of science and technology to come up with innovation that would help in the diversification driven of the federal government to boost  the economy.

Onu assured the participants on Course 28 that, Nigerian researchers are working judiciously to deliver the appropriate results that can be commercialized to help build a diversified economy for the benefits of Nigerians.

“The eras of working in isolation of one another are long gone and gone for good. In the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, we no longer work in isolation, as we encourage and support the academies of science, engineering, letters, social science, and education to work together for the good of the nation.

STI- required instrument to transit from commodity

“One of the important instruments to drive the STI policy is the National Science, Technology and Innovation   Roadmap 2017 – 2030 to address societal problems and reorient the citizenry to see science technology, and innovation as a required instrument to transit from commodity to a knowledge based economy,” he added.

The minister further said that, “the ministry has developed 5 policies with the primary objectives of diversifying the economy which includes: Technology Innovation Expo, Methanol Fuel Technology Programme, Electronic Technology Programme, National Leader and Leader Policy, amongst others.

“Nigeria is gradually moving away from resource to a knowledge based innovation driven economy.

He further said, research activity of the ministry that had impacted positively on the economy of the country was as a fact due to the persistent research on cassava, which today has resulted in the production of high quality cassava flour, industrial starch, fufu powder, cassava chips, cassava bread, cassava noodles etc.

Nigeria endowed with resources

While commending the minister on his drive to move the nation’s economy forward, the Commandant of Defence College, Rear Admiral Markson Kadiri Makanjuola acknowledged the immense contribution of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu on the field of science and technology, and for honoring their invitation anytime he is called upon. Adding that, many countries improve mostly by STI alongside passion to see that such comes to pass. “We as a country should have and work with passion to grow because our nation has a lot of resources to benefit from and having a man like the minister always ready  to work, we should encourage him by appreciating the wealth of his experience and passion to diversify the economy.”

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