RMRDC bidding to save Nigeria N103.9bn on chitosan formulation



With efforts to develop and domesticate chitosan, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) hopes to save the N103.9bn spent annually on car-coating formulation in Nigeria; BINTA SHAMA reports.

The Raw Materials Research and Development Council in collaboration with the Chemical Engineering department of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria has started a project that will lead to development and domestication of mini-refining of  naphtha hydrotreating and fluid catalytic cracking units at the University.

Research has shown that ‘Chitosan’ has a number of commercial and biomedical uses. It be used in agriculture for seed treatment and biopesticide, helping plants to fight off fungal infections. In winemaking, it be used as a fining agent, also helping to prevent spoilage.

In the manufacturing industry, it be used in a self-healing polyurethane paint coating. In medicine, it is useful in bandages to reduce bleeding and as an antibacterial agent; it also be used to help deliver drugs through the skin.

Development of chitosan as  additive for  automobile paints

Chitosan are self-healing agents used in the form of additives for the of specialized car paints.  The self-healing car paints differs from ordinary car paint, in that it contains autonomic healing materials capable of responding to harsh environmental effects which subsequently repair damages incurred on coating where it has been applied without external intervention.  Car paints produced locally are produced using imported synthetic self-healing agents and the country expends huge foreign exchange for its importation, even with the availability of the primary raw materials (sea shells) which are considered as waste materials.

Objective

To extract and purify chitosan as a self-healing agent (additive) for the of special car paints with autonomic healing properties for the Coating industry.

Target

‘To locally produce chitosan, a self-healing paint additive for car paint formulation.

‘To reduce importation of synthetic self-healing agent for car paint formulation

Development and domestication of mini-refinery naphtha hydrotreating and catalytic cracking unit

The project will lead to development and domestication of mini-refinery naphtha hydrotreating and fluid catalytic cracking units in ABU Zaria.

Following the proposal submitted to the Council by the Chemical Engineering Department, ABU, Zaria, on the development and domestication of mini-refinery naphtha hydrotreating and fluid catalytic cracking units, “the research team was invited to the RMRDC headquarters to make on the project. The principal researcher, Prof.  I. A. Muhammad was at the Council on 2nd October, 2014 to defend the project proposal and the project commenced on 2015. The objective of this project is to develop and domesticate the of refinery naphtha hydro-treating and fluid catalytic cracking units.

Justification of the project

Nigeria imports about 550MT of synthetic self-healing agents valued at N103,978,236 annually for car coating formulation.  However, studies have shown that chitosan, a self-healing agent be produced from sea shells which are regarded as waste materials.  Therefore, this project will not only convert waste to wealth but will also provide a much needed raw materials for the coating industry in Nigeria.

Presently, Nigeria produces crude oil but lacks the capacity for local refining. All the refineries in the country hardly produce at full capacity and the are all imported making turnaround maintenance only possible at the convenience of experts. As a result, huge revenue is lost in terms of foreign exchange. The desire here is to build local capacity through a pilot mini-refinery as a means of addressing some of the .

The project has reached an advanced stage because fabrication of most of the components has been completed but their coupling, assembly and installation are yet to be carried out due to funds constraint.

Impact of the innovation

The project when completed will be of immense benefit as it will: Demonstrate the Nigerian local capacity to design, fabricate and operate a mini-refinery; Contribute to the body of knowledge which will be demonstrated through technical paper publication and conference presentations; and the Creation of hands-on training facilities for both undergraduate and post graduate students.

The first phase of the work witnessed the fabrication, installation and piping of component part of the Naphtha Hydro-treatment Unit (the Surge Drum, Heat Exchangers, Condensers, Low Pressure Separator, NHU Furnace, NHU Reactor and the Furnace Burners).  However, other fabricated units for Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (the Surge Drum, Heat Exchangers, Burners, Furnace, Fractionating Column, FCC Riser, Disengager, Stripper, Regenerator, Cyclones, Air Grid and Circ-Mesh) are yet to be installed though the platforms have been erected. Fabrication of Hydrogen line, Controls, Lagging and stair construction are still pending.  For the FCCU, Assembly, installation and piping of all major are yet to be done as well as the reconstruction and insertion of the cyclones into the regenerator.

The Naphtha Hydro-treating Unit is expected to produce at completion, one barrel per hour and the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit will produce five barrels per batch, (batch time is 9 hours).The researcher has recommended for early procurement of crude oil for test running the two units immediately after completion.

Following the visit and directives of the Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, on the completion of the project, the Council in partnership with the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, will complete, install and test-run various components of the two units as follows:

Naphtha Hydro-Treating Unit (NHU)  is meant to remove impurities from the straight-run Naphtha which is a component of the finished Motor Spirit (PMS) (Gasoline) after being catalytically reformed to improve its combustion qualities in internal combustion engines (cars).

Fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) is the most complicated refinery unit. It is referred to as the garbage converter (waste-to-wealth). It takes in all the refinery heavy residues (HVGOs) and convert them into lighter and more valuable products such as LPG, gasoline, diesel, fuel and bunker oils.

Work on this unit (FCCU) has reached over 80 per cent completion with an envisage completion period of 2-3 months. After which the commissioning of the two units is expected to take place.

The unit is made up of many components, all referred to as converter components.

Blueprint reached out to the Chemicals and Pharmaceutical Material Department ABU Zaria, who affirmed that the project has been successful and completed with a very good result and is in the process of being commercialised. “They are all locally sourced material, proven to be 100% but only to be commercialised in the Nigerian markets. It is very durable and easy to use.”

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