Importance of Nanotechnology


Emeka Okwuosa, chairman of Oilserv Limited, wants Nigeria government and academics to collaborate in the adoption of nanotechnology to solve a range of problems facing the country, especially in oil and gas industry

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  May 12, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

NANOTECHNOLOGY is the new thing in the manufacturing technology. Hence, Emeka Okwuosa, chairman, Oilserv Limited, does not want Nigeria to miss out in applying same to a range of things in the country. At the presentation of a paper presentation at the African International Conference/Workshop on application of nanotechnology to energy, environment and health organised by Nano Research Group, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Okwuosa said government needed to encourage nanotechnology researchers in solving problems related to education and oil and gas.

He described nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular and supramolecular scale to tiny factories for producing models of products required. According to him, this particular technology helps to get precise manipulation of atoms and molecules for fabricating of microscopic products, which is now referred to as molecular technology. “The National Nanotechnology Initiative, an American national initiative, has defined nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from one to 100 nanometers. The definition has since shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter that occur below given size threshold. It is known that because of the variety of potential applications, governments have invested billions of dollars in nanotechnology research,” Okwuosa said.

The scientist said the nanotechnology research could be applied in various fields and industries in Nigeria to create awareness. According to him, government could fund the usage nanotechnology research to advance technology, research development and educational system in the country. “This discussion brings to light the current status of the academic institution in Nigeria. Clearly, a lot is left to be desired about the structure, performance and funding of the academic institutions in our country. Starting from primary to post graduate education, our very important institutions of education have been brought to their knees. This had led to very poor quality of graduates at all levels.

“The level of failure in our school certificate examinations at secondary school level is a pointer to the rot. This has continued unabated for years. Definitely this has resulted in poor quality of students entering our universities. Without adequate structure of financing for our universities, you can see clear amplification of the rot. Without a clear and sustainable structure of education, that is well funded, development of our human resources will be a pipe dream. The resultant effect across all sectors of life in the country is obvious. One key aspect that can surely lead to better development of our academic institutions is funding. Funding does not necessarily mean government funding or handouts. This means comprehensive structural change in the funding of education,” he said.

To realise the objective, Okwuosa would want good cooperation between universities and industry owners towards funding of research that would improve the standard of education. He said this could come in form of direct grants and endowments. He said for a sustainable structure, it has to be geared towards achievement of development and application possibilities in the industries. “Involvement of key sections of the university in quasi-commercial activities geared towards utilisation of results of specific researches in way that is beneficial to general populace while attracting profitability to the institutions. Clearly, the current situation is unsustainable and requires drastic change,” he said.

With the Nigerian oil and gas industry, it is believed that nanotechnology would help the country to take full advantage of the industry, because the application of nanotechnology cuts across all sectors. According to him, nanotechnology finds applications in the oil and gas operations, pipeline and facilities, in the manufacturing of pipelines materials and the in the cleaning of oil spillages. “Nanotechnology can be used to improve the drilling process. Some specialised nanosensors have been developed and tested by Advanced Energy Consortium, AEC, which could be injected into oil and gas wells. These sensors would be forced out of wells through the existing pore space and into the surrounding formation pore space. There they would collect the reservoir’s physical nanosize particles and superfine powder that significantly improves drilling speed. This blend eliminates damage to the reservoir rock in the well, making it possible to extract more oil. Nanoscale metals already have been used to delineate Ore deposits for geochemical exploration,” Okwuosa said.

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