By Etuka Sunday
Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) yesterday announced the successful breakthrough in the local refining of heavy crude for the production of petroleum products using locally sources raw materials.
A statement by the Head, Press and External Relations (PTDF), Kalu Otisi quoted the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Abdullahi Mustapha to have made the announcement at the 2014 Annual Lecture of the PTDF Professorial Chair in Chemical Engineering.
He said the design and fabrication of the pilot plants for the production of Zeolite catalyst has reached advanced stage with a view to commissioning a prototype refinery in November this year.
The statement said the breakthrough was the outcome of a 4 year intensive research on the production of Zeolite Catalyst using clay by a team of Researchers led by the Chair holder, Petroleum Technology Development Fund Endowment in Chemical Engineering at the University, Professor Abdulkarim Ahmed.
The Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund, Dr. Oluwole Oluleye commended the PTDF Chair in Chemical Engineering, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Abdulkarim Ahmed for his high sense of commitment to actualizing the Research goals for which the university was endowed.
He described the outcome as fundamental to the sourcing of local raw materials like kaolin in producing Zeolite Catalyst, with the economic implication of reducing the huge capital flight on the importation of the raw materials for use in local refineries.
In 2011, NNPC Refineries imported Zeolite Catalyst worth 12 million USD. “The application of novel techniques in Zeolite Catalyst production will not only offer huge opportunities for entrepreneurial development of sustainable refinery and petrochemical products but would also create job opportunities for Nigerians. PTDF has keen interest on enhancing refinery and petrochemicals operations in Nigeria as seen by the various research programmes we are funding” PTDF Chair holder and lead researcher, Professor Ahmed, said characterization tests conducted abroad on the locally produced Zeolite Catalyst using Kaoline obtained from Kankara in Katsina State indicate a 75% viability in outperforming the commercial catalyst currently being used by NNPC Refineries.
The Intellectual Property Rights and patent on two novel process techniques employed in the production of Zeolite Y and ZSM-5 Zeolite Catalysts have already been approved.
PTDF endows Professorial Chairs to advance indigenous research in petroleum and other related disciplines for the development of the nation’ s oil and gas industry.