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Innovation in energy storage wins NLNG’s N36m science prize

NLNG MD, Mr. Tony Attah

By Yunus Yusuf

Lagos, Oct. 9, 2018

The Advisory Board of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) prize for Science on Tuesday announced Dr Peter Ngene as the winner of 2018 Nigeria Prize for Science, of 100, 000 dollars (N36 million).

Dr. Peter Ngene

Ngene won the prize on his work, “All Solid State Liquid Sulphur Battery” as the winning work for the 2018 Nigeria Prize for Science.

The Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Science Prize and a science prize laureate, Prof. Akpoveta Susu disclosed this at a news conference in Lagos.

According to Susu, the “All Solid State Liquid Sulphur Battery” is a new type for battery for energy storage with implications on renewable energy development.

He said that the work also contributed to surmounting challenges around power transformers explosions due to degradation of insulators in the transformers.

“This winning work is evolutionary. Nigerians are beginning to see a clear link between their research works and problem solving.

“This was the idea behind using science to manage our challenges.

“For instance, explosions in transformers are common experiences in the country. If we are serious, through this prize, the situation can be a thing of the past.

“I call on the private sector and the government to take up this challenge,” he said.

The chairman advisory board also announced “Climate Change: Erosion, Drought and Desertification” as the theme for the 2019 prize.

Reacting to the verdict, the Manager, Corporate Communications of NLNG, Mr Andy Odeh, said “with each passing year, our belief grows stronger that there is a place for “The Nigeria Prize for Science” in the quest to develop our country through science research and technology.

“The current reality in today’s energy world is a dilemma. The world population is growing very fast that it is projected to increase by an extra two billion by 2050.

“It is like adding a new China and India to the world’s population. On the back of this increase in population and improving fortune of people globally is a corresponding increase in energy demand.

“Where will this energy come from? Also on the back of all these growth is the increasing clamour for clean energy as a result of climate change,” he said.

Odeh said that aside from gas being a significant player in the future’s energy mix, renewable energy would take up a big part of the energy mix in the future.

“We are already seeing this in some European countries planning to eliminate carbon emissions.

“Countries like the UK, Sweden and Norway and many other countries are making moves to significantly reduce their carbon footprints.

“Take for example India, which aims for 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030. UK has joined France to ban fossil-fuel cars by 2040.

“Norway aims for all new passenger cars and vans sold in 2025 to be zero-emission vehicles while Sweden has committed to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2040.

“We can see the direction the world is moving. This work by Ngene can be one of the keys to the renewable energy jigsaw.

“We believe this is an opportunity to secure a niche market in Nigeria for energy storage, riding on the back on this new type of batteries developed from the synthesis of nano-structured composite materials used as solid state electrolyte.

“The implications on solar and wind energy and on the use in long driving range electric vehicles are evident.

“This award shows how NLNG is helping to build a better Nigeria,” Odeh added.

The winner, Ngene, is an assistant professor in the Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis group of the Debye Institute for Nano-materials Science, Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

He is the recipient of the prestigious the Royal Dutch Chemical Association (KNCV) Van Arkel best PhD thesis (2012/2013) award, and the chair of the 2013 Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) on Metal-Hydrogen system in Italy.

He was also recently recognised as one of African leading young scientists by the award of the prestigious  Next Einstein Forum (NEF) fellowship by the Chairman of the African Union, President Paul Kagame.

The number of entries for the 2018 Nigeria Prize for Science broke entry records with total entry number of 84, exceeding the 2017 and 2016 entry numbers of 27 and 15 respectively.

The decision on the winning entry of the Nigeria Prize for Science was reached by a panel of judges, led by Prof. Francis Oluwole.

Oluwole is a professor of Physics, who comes with a wealth of experience in atomic and nuclear energy.

Other members of the panel are Prof. Onyemaechi Ekechukwu and Prof. Abubakar Sani Sambo, Prof. Onyemaechi Ekechukwu and Prof. Abubakar Sani Sambo.

On the prize’s Advisory Board are Prof. Michael Adikwu, Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja and also a past winner of the science prize; Professor Elijah Mshelia, a nuclear physicist.

Others are Prof. Barth Nnaji, renowned scientist and former Minister of Power; and Dr Nike Akande, two-time minister and President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s premier chamber of commerce.

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