The 112th inaugural lecturer at the University of Calabar, Prof. Ayi Ayi, has identified the over-dependence on fossil fuel as the bane of environmental pollution in Nigeria.
Ayi made this known while delivering the institution’s 112th inaugural lecture on the topic “Metal-Organic Frameworks as Panacea for Global Energy and Environmental Pollution Problems”.
The lecture was delivered at the institution’s conference centre on Friday, February 3, 2023, in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
According to him, most of the energy comes from fossil fuel, adding that burning the fuel causes environmental problems, and in particular, the global warming problem.
Ayi said Nigeria was at energy crossroads, adding that different energy sources ranging from wood, coal, petrol and natural gas were all carbon-based which released unwanted gases into the atmosphere, thereby polluting the environment.
According to Ayi: “The energy consumption in Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million, is growing and there has been a constant electrical power outage resulting in total blackouts most time in the country.
“The over-dependence on fossil fuel with the attendant environmental pollution constitutes a major problem confronting our nation and the world at large.”
He maintained that the burning of fossil fuel – coal, natural gas and oil – inevitably led to an increasing level of pollutant gasses in the atmosphere, thus aggravating the greenhouse effect and its global adverse consequences.
While proffering solutions to the menace, Ayi said that global action on all major modern pollutants was needed, adding that global efforts could synergise with other global environmental policy programmes.
Ayo, a Professor of Inorganic/Materials Chemistry, identified a rapid transition away from all fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy as an effective strategy for preventing pollution.
He said that to transit from a fossil fuel-based energy economy to a sustainable and clean, renewable energy sources such as hydrogen fuel cells, Li-ion rechargeable batteries, supercapacitors and solar cells needed to be adopted.
“It has become expedient to develop and optimize various energy storage and conversion technologies and materials aimed at the utilisation of different clean energy sources.
“To achieve this, there must be coordinated government action that focuses on the transition to natural renewable energy sources,” he said.
Prof Ayi, however, called on the Federal Government to quickly develop a road map for the hydrogen economy, to create an ecosystem of hydrogen industry for energy production, storage and transportation.
He appealed that the Research and Development Unit of Nigerian universities should be properly funded for the design of frameworks materials that could store hydrogen gas at ambient temperature.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. Florence Obi, in her remarks, described the inaugural lecture as an “academic feast” for both the “town and the gown”.
Prof. Obi assured that her administration would continue to sustain the inaugural lecture series.
The V-C, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Grace Eno-Nta, said the lecture was apt.
She stressed that the solutions proffered by the lecturer for energy storage and environmental pollution should not be treated with levity.
By George Odok