In Africa, most times we do not take cognizance of the potentials inherent in waste materials. However Ikenna Ubah a 28-year-old Nigerian chemical engineer has been able to identify a whole new product that could be found through the usage of readily available waste to produce affordable and environmental-friendly briquettes in Nigeria, especially in the rural areas, where most of the population still rely on charcoal for heat.
The briquettes are product of the low-pressure compaction of biomass like sawdust, agricultural waste, and paper among others. They are environmentally-friendly, entirely renewable and very easy to implement.
“I started collecting waste to convert to renewable biomass energy because of the amount of waste that fills everywhere in my street and people use inefficient firewood and charcoal for cooking, which destroys their health” said Ubah, the founder and Managing Director of Ubabio Biomass Energy Solutions.
After a year of production, Ubah’s briquettes are proving to be a perfect alternative to charcoal, firewood and kerosene for local users. Testifying to this, Igwesi Chika, a restaurant owner said, “the charcoal catches fire very fast, it lasts longer than other charcoal, it helps me to cook very fast and it makes my environment very neat because it does not have smoke”
With near energy crisis, particularly in the country’s troubled north, there is high potential of biomass briquette becoming a preferred substitute fuel for nearly all energy uses.
Ubabio Energy Solutions is not just saving the environment, they are also providing healthy alternatives to people who work in spaces where they have to burn stuffs because these briquettes do not emit carbon monoxide.
Ubah has been contributing his quota to the Nigerian economy by providing jobs to youths and local farmers. He also volunteers in his local community-based cooperative for biodiversity conversation and ecotourism as the head of youths’ capacity building. He is a consultant at Go Green Initiative, where he trains youths, women and local farmers how to convert agricultural waste into clean cooking biomass energy and organic fertilizer, he also impacts them with technical and business ideas to help them set up and manage their own enterprise.