College of Science, Engineering & Technology

Power generation for the poor

Prof Christopher Enweremadu (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, CSET) is an NRF C3-rated researcher whose research interest is on the application of renewable energy to enhance the quality of life of the rural populace.

Prof Christopher Enweremadu from the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering co-published Prospects of decentralised renewable energy to improve energy access: A resource-inventory-based analysis of South Africa in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (103:328-341) in 2019 with visiting professor Debendra Baruah from Tezpur University, India. The article focused on the prospects of utilising two major distributed renewable sources (farm manure and solar radiation) for a decentralised renewable energy (DRE) programme to provide quality energy access, primarily for the non-electrified population of South Africa.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews is a prestigious international journal, with a highly reputable editorial team, published by Elsevier in the field of renewable energy, sustainability and the environment.

According to Enweremadu, although he has published two review articles in the journal before, in 2009 and 2010, this publication is different as it is a full-length research article that depicts the energy scenario of the country in a very unique dimension by relating crime with energy issues. "A very impressive qualitative as well as quantitative overview emerges with an assessment of potential household energy demand, an estimation of decentralised energy generation potentials from biogas and potential life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission benefits, and the prospects of harnessing multifaceted benefits of biogas technology in South Africa," he stresses.

Enweremadu points out that the article underscores the importance of making good use of the Visiting Researchers Support Programme (VRSP) by inviting high-quality researchers who can make positive impacts on and contribute to high-impact research outputs leading to international collaborations.

Another positive impact of this collaboration was that Baruah was one of the external evaluators of the PhD proposal of Enweremadu’s doctoral student, Samson Ugwu. Ugwu, who started his doctoral programme in May 2017, has published five journal articles and presented two conference papers from his research work on biogas. In addition, one of his papers is undergoing a second review in a journal published by Elsevier with an impact factor and CiteScore of 3.95 and 4.70 respectively.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (impact factor = 12.110, CiteScore = 25.5; CiteScore percentile = 98%; and journal impact = 4/179 in Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment)

Journal of Cleaner Production (impact factor 7.246; CiteScore = 10.9; CiteScore percentile = 98%; and journal impact = 4/210 in General Environmental Science; CiteScore percentile = 90% and journal impact = 18/179 in Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment)

"But what is fascinating about this student’s research outputs is his latest publication in the Journal of Cleaner Production (269, 122449 [2020]," claims Enweremadu. "This article, A meta-analysis of iron-based additives on enhancements of biogas yields during anaerobic digestion of organic wastes, is an evidence-based study where we used meta-analysis in determining the performances of iron-based additives on biogas yield. We used a database to analyse the influence of iron-based additives on the enhancement of biogas yield during anaerobic digestion of organic waste," he said. It was evident from the study that an iron-based additive supplementation has the potential to improve the biogas yield during anaerobic digestion of organic waste at reduced production cost and can guide policy makers in the biogas industries. This will also aid the achievement of environmental sustainability through higher substrate degradability and waste reduction.

"The information from this study avails important suggestions on policy advancements and sustainable usage of iron-based enhanced anaerobic digestion processes in biogas industries," concludes Enweremadu.

Collaboration pays off

In the light of the excellent work and cooperation from Baruah, Enweremadu has initiated a memorandum of understanding with Tezpur University, which they have signed and returned. He is now in the process of getting it submitted to the legal department for assessment.

"While our research on renewable energy may seem basic, it is mainly focused on alleviating the energy poverty of the rural population and policy makers can use the research by implementing the results of these studies. In view of this, we are open to internal, national, and international collaborations to make this a reality," Enweremadu asserts.

* Submitted by Thembeka Ntuli-Mpapama, Communication and Marketing Specialist, College of Science, Engineering and Technology

Publish date: 2020/07/11