Nigerian Students Make Car Parts From Agric Waste

a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department, Dr Ugochukwu Okonkwo, led his 

students to build various car body components from agricultural wastes as part of their 


course requirements. They used raw materials such as cashew nut shell liquid, resin 

reinforced 

with 

palm fruit bunch refuse fibres etc. In this chat with Vanguard Learning, Okonkwo who is also 

the Deputy Chairman, University/Industry Research Committee, 


he said the problem was that the car industry uses materials such as iron, aluminium, copper, steel, plastic steel, glass, rubber, petroleum products etc., to build cars. Most of the weight of vehicles comes from steel. According to a report in Financial Week, ‘in 2007, the average car contained about 1,090kg of steel, and the average pickup truck or SUV used nearly 1,360kg of steel. Most cars now weigh around 1,360kg, and most SUVs weigh around 1,810kg.
Apart from the cost, weight of vehicles and the problems associated with it, the fact is that Nigeria is still struggling with its steel manufacturing plant and is not yet producing iron and aluminium in large quantities, hence, the need for viable alternatives.
Today, most door beams, exhausts, roofs and body panels are made of steel. Also, a report by the American Chemistry Council says that plastics make up about 50 per cent of the construction of new cars today because “plastics are durable, cheap and can be turned into just about anything. Dashboards, gauges, dials, switches, air conditioner vents, door handles, floor mats, seat belts, airbags, etc., are all made from different types of plastics.
Because of their lightweight, plastics are being increasingly used in body structures and in engines.” If Nigeria cannot manufacture the whole vehicle, it can at least produce some parts using its abundant natural resources.

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