Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It is said that opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. It is high time our government, scientist, chemists, private sectors embraced the new concept “GREEN CHEMISTRY OR GREEN TECHNOLOGY”. Green technology involves the use of less harmful, eco-friendly materials such as sands, plants, clothes, cotton, clay, grasses etc., for production processes without actually endangering the natural environment and the physical being contained there in. The green chemistry examines more natural solutions to the threat of environmental degradation from water pollution, indiscriminate discharge of industrial effluents, oil spillages, gas flaring etc. Examples of Green Technology include the following;
1. BIOREMEDIATION OR PHYTOREMEDIATION
The process involve the use of microorganisms, fungi, green plants or their enzymes to return the natural environment altered by contaminants from oil spillage, industrial effluents, water and land pollution, gas flaring, burning of fossil fuels etc., to its original condition.
Phyto-remediation consists of depolluting contaminated soils, water or air with plants that are able to contain, degrade or eliminate metals, pesticides or eliminates metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil and various other contaminants, from mediums that contain them. It stands to reason, therefore, that phyto or bioremediation removes pollutants from the environment or renders them harmless, that is, bioremediation is not only a clean-up process, but also an avenue for material recovery and recycling.
Relative to the traditional (engineering-based) technologies used to clean up soils, phyto-remediation confers some significant advantages. Some of these include;
A- Cost-effectiveness: Engineering-based technologies are very costly, in contrast to the relatively much lower cost of phyto-remediation which is mostly “in situ” and, less frequently “ex situ” (which involves excavating the contaminated soil to another site for treatment).
B- Possible recovery and re-use of valuable metals: This point is very significant for companies specializing in “phyto-mining”, a process of recovering useful metals (such as lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum, iron etc) from the harvest of plants which have absorbed the said materials from contaminated soils on which they (the plants) were grown, there by reducing the trend of unemployment.
C- The plants used can be monitored: The process is monitored by measuring the following parameters; Oxidation-Reduction potential, pH, Temperature, CO2 etc.
D- Phyto-remediation is the least harmful method: Because it uses naturally occurring organisms and preserves the natural state of the environment, unlike the engineering-based technologies which dramatically disturb the environment.
E- In addition to the aforementioned, production of oxygen is highly encouraged to meet up with the increasing demand of atmospheric oxygen. Since the process involves planting plants using natural organism, more carbon dioxide is used up by the plants and more atmospheric oxygen is released and there by reducing emission of carbon dioxide for global warming.
2 ADSORPTION PROCESSES FOR WASTE-WATER TREATMENT
The presence of industrial effluents, contaminants, pollutants in water is undesirable because of the toxicological impact of its entrance into the food chain. Many effluents, dyes, chemicals and pigments have toxic as well as carcinogenic, mutagenic and tetratogenic effects. The high cost of waste water treatment coupled with tedious procedure for the regeneration of the conventional adsorbent (that is, activated carbon) that is used. Attention has been shifted to the use of reliable substitutes which is eco-friendly, simple and sludge free, which also involves low investment in terms of both the initial and operational cost.
Adsorption, a simple, reliable, effective and efficacious waste-water treatment method is a suitable primary or tertiary treatment method. Different types of eco-friendly adsorbent for adsorption processes includes: Castor seed shell, Rubber seed shell, Palm kernel fiber, Loofah cylindrical and Clay (the research we are carrying out in the laboratory presently).
The present trends in the technology of water/waste-water treatment using adsorption is more efficient, low cost, eco-friendly and is currently gaining popularity in China, India and other technologically advanced countries. The process is highly recommended for government, private sectors and researchers in order to tackle problem of safe drinking water in the MDGs.
3 RECYCLING OF WASTES
Heap of solids wastes commonly found within our urban cities such as Lagos, Kaduna, Kano etc., could be a money-making ventures and consequently reduce the trend of unemployment amongst the youths that are becoming dread armed robbers. The huge refuse dumps can be converted into harmless, environmental friendly materials such as, conversion of waste papers into tissue paper, cardboard, packaging materials, bill boards etc.
Since technologists are now embracing green technology by creating wealth from wastes producing one material from other existing materials without endangering the environment and the eco-system at large. For instance, instead of falling or cutting trees for pulp and paper and exposing our soil to erosion, the trees could be spared and attention should be shifted to the use of rags, un-used clothes, grasses, leaves, waste paper for the production of paper and other packaging materials like envelope. Government at all levels should enact stringent laws banning the public from indiscriminate falling of trees, also people-centered approached to environmental policies and ecological friendly is highly recommended.
Recycling of sachet water nylons as well as the empty plastics of table water should be encouraged and alternative use is found for them which include recovery of spilled oil on land / water or for the production of certain thermostable materials like, insulators, casing etc.
Recycling of effluents from some industries such as Nigerian Breweries, Guinness, PZ, Unilever should be taken serious, for this will encourage creating wealth from waste and also to reduce poverty, unemployment and restless amongst the youths. By adopting simple method to treat this liquid wastes efficiently, it will go along way to reduce the environmental degradation as well as bio-accumulation of the toxic metals in the aquatic lives. Millennium Development Goals is much achievable.
It has been said that “any nation that neglect grass root education has placed a ceiling above its head and will not experience growth beyond the barrier”, hence, local government, state government, federal government and the private sectors are enjoined to finance the education in the country as this is the only way to technologically develop our country. Various committees should be set up by government to be responsible for the collection of various projects carrying out at our high institutions in the country, instead of dumping the projects in the offices of our HODs. Funds inform of grants, scholarships, fellowships should be made available to the best graduating students (first class or second class upper graduates) with flair for meaningful researches just like the one carrying out by the writer, this will place our dear country (Nigeria) amongst economically and technologically develop nation by 2020. Many developing nations are doing it and succeed, Nigeria cannot be an exception. The time to act and change our orientation is NOW. YES WE CAN!