When sages say necessity is the mother of invention, their intention is not just to play on words. They are not just indulging in metaphors or personifications. Associate Professor of Mechatronic Engineering at the First Technical University, Ibadan, Dr Oyetunde Adeaga, will, for one, tell you that the adage is nothing but the truth.
About a year ago, his car developed a fault after refuelling at a filling station. He did not immediately link the crisis to the fuel he bought. He checked all possible sources of the problem, yet it lingered. Eventually, he found out that the car had fallen victim to adulterated fuel. Oyetunde Adeoye Adeaga, who is currently a Reader in, and Acting Head of, the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, is also the Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology at the university fondly called Tech-U. This shows that the menace is not a respecter of anyone.
As many people do in the situation, he did not bother to go back to the filling station – say, to at least complain. He, however, took a step others wouldn’t: he started thinking about finding a solution to the problem of fuel adulteration especially in his fatherland, which though is oil-rich, is often languishing in energy crises. The sustained thinking was well received by the researcher in him and the result of this, today, is a vital invention he has recorded, He is out with a product called the Smart Handy Gasoline Fuel Quality Detection Device, capable of detecting adulterated fuel at the point of purchase. This has not just passed through a series of lab tests, it has also been patented by the Ministry of Trade, thus increasing the number of patents Tech-U has recorded. No wonder, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Adesola Ajayi, has commended Adeaga for the feat, while offering him all required support to ensure the invention see the light of the day and utility nationally and globally.
Professor Ajayi enthuses: “I always say this at every slightest opportunity: Tech-U is blessed with scholars who are consistently diligent as well as efficient in class and in research. We believe in the power of ideas to impact society positively. Every lecturer in this institution works in this light and is so involved in one major project or the other. Management too is not relenting in giving all the needed support. An example of the result is what Dr Adeaga has just achieved alongside the university because, ultimately, patents are a part of a university’s strengths and resources. We cannot congratulate hm enough.”
The funnel-like device is put at the inlet of the tank as the attendant wants to dispense fuel. If the fuel does not meet the requirement of the engine, there will be a pop sound, like that of a pop corn. This is a negative alarm that something is wrong.
Adeaga explains, “The thing is that there will be a blockage of the passage of fuel into the tank. The fuel will indeed go out and splash on the handler of the nozzle if the fuel is low-quality grade. But, if within the recommended quality, there won’t be any blockage or sound. That is the guarantee that the fuel is okay and good for the engine.”
The Smart Handy Gasoline Fuel Quality Detection Device was first tested at the Faculty of Engineering of the First Technical University, Ibadan. Radiating fulfilment, Adeaga notes, “This was followed by readjustment based on observations and recommendations. It was then filed up with the Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office (IPPTO) at the Tech-U, from where it went through scrutiny for about seven months. It passed through different stages, until a congratulatory message finally came from the Ministry of Trade that the invention has been patented.”
He stresses that his device is unique because similar products are not smart. Most are not stand-alone as they are accessories to bigger devices. The Smart Handy Gasoline Fuel Quality Detection Device’s edge, he adds, is that it is mobile, portableand stand-alone. “You can put it anywhere in your bag or car,” Adeaga explains, adding that it can also be used with generators.
Interestingly, the faculty sent two devices to the Ministry of Trade for patenting. The second, which aims to detect alcohol level of drivers, was, however, dropped.
On the challenges he encountered in the course of the research, Adeaga recalls that some people tried to discourage him, to the extent that some said he was wasting his time when the idea had yet to take shape.
“There was also the problem of the non-availability of some important materials. For instance, I had to eventually order ardruino kits from China because the one I initially sourced locally got burnt based on its suspect quality. The one I ordered was customised,” he adds.
Having recorded the phenomenal success, Adeaga is energised to soar higher. He is already working on one or two other things he will later unveil, while teaching and mentoring students to also fly. Part of the success he and his colleagues have netted in the latter area is that, recently, a group of Tech-U students secured the best prototype award at the UI-UNILAG National Competition. Fathia Isiaka, a 500 Level Mechatronics Engineering student of Technical University, led the four-man Team Zero (Waste) to the competition which held in Lagos last week.
Team Zero of the Technical University designed a Smart Bio-digester (EcoPlus), a machine that converts wastes to energy and is controlled electronically with the use of an App also designed by the team.
On a surprising note, Adeaga says the problem of adulterated fuel is not limited to Nigeria. According to him, it is a global one. “You may say it is somehow widespread in Nigeria, but the fact is that it is prominent in Asia and Europe too. Many of the second-hand cars sent to us were damaged through adulterated fuel,” he adds.
The Ibadan, Oyo State-born lecturerattended Government College in the Oyo State capital for secondary education. He obtained B.Eng. (Hons.) (Mechanical Engineering) Second Class Upper (1999) from Federal University of Technology, Akure; M. Sc. (Mechanical Engineering) and Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering) from the University of Ibadan in 2005 and 2015 respectively. He has designed and implemented various community works ranging from sinking of borehole, structures and rural electrification to mention a few. He is a member of many onshore and offshore engineering societies and bodies. He is a certified engineer with the West African Engineering Council and Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria. He is a fellow of Association of Commonwealth Universities, UK.
He is an expert and consultant at Computational Fluid and Thermal Systems, aerodynamics and Renewable/Clean Energy of the future with exposure to engineering design and construction. With over twenty years of experience in teaching and research sector, he has supervised and co-supervised many projects. He has authored and co-authored many research articles in both onshore and offshore reputable outlets.