Best Drupal HostingBest Joomla HostingBest Wordpress Hosting
WORLD POLICY ON AIR

World Policy Journal is proud to share our weekly podcast, World Policy On Air, featuring former Newsweek On Air host David Alpern with timely insights from global affairs analyst Michael Moran of Transformative.io, risk and geostrategy consultants. Click here to subscribe on iTunes!

THE LATEST

AddToAny
Share/Save

The Use of Mimosa as a Source of Renewable Green Energy

By Justus Nwaoga

The unequal distribution of electric power and unstable power supply have stimulated searches for alternative sources of power in Nigeria. Insufficient energy has posed a big challenge to most nations in Africa—it has dragged developmental activities through the mud. This has raised questions for Africans concerning how to best overcome these challenges. Reliance on the developed world cannot solve African energy problems, but the innovative use of the continent’s own natural resources can.

Scientists and technologists stressed the urgent need to develop our technology. Depending on advanced nations to pass along their technology is an ineffective and impossible solution. In Nigeria and across Africa, over 85 percent of the population lives in the countryside and relies on traditional sources of energy—trees are cut down and wood is used for cooking, heating, and other subsistence activities. The use of firewood, though not healthy, is the only available option—and one that is disappearing due to deforestation.

One of the accepted alternative energy sources is solar energy, which has become a major contributor to many countries’ power portfolios. The increased interest in solar energy has led to the development of innovative technologies such as the use of the plant Mimosa pudica as a renewable source of green energy.

This innovation was conceptualized after observing the energy transformation in the Mimosa pudica weed, a medicinal plant of African origin that grows and thrives in the tropics. Its leaves open at sunrise and close at sunset and are sensitive to touch and light.

To make mimosa solar cells, the parts of the plant containing black silicon, a semiconductor, are isolated. When a concentrate of the cell is exposed to daylight, a commensurate quantity of energy is absorbed. The concentrate will then rapidly split water molecules and produce a current.

Harnessing the active principle using only water as the solvent has made this process a more sustainable practice.

The use of mimosa technology as a solar fuel is a renewable, green-energy alternative. It has also contributed to efforts to check environmental abuse in the manufacturing and utilization of solar products. Though some were skeptical that solar commodities would be produced in Africa, the mimosa solar enterprise has rekindled the idea of Africa as a continent of possibility. Progressive voices have argued that Africans themselves should produce what they consume for economic development. The use of mimosa weed fits this framework perfectly: The plant, which was traditionally thrown away during farmland clearing, is abundant and easily available, and its new role both contributes to the economy and helps African nations reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. The product is replicable and sustainable, and the growth of this industry opens doors for youth seeking employment.

Mimosa solar panel innovation can change the lifestyles of rural dwellers in Nigeria and across Africa. Virtually everyone depends on kerosene lamps and candles for lighting. These are costly and polluting, and they can be damaging to health. New technology without these negative effects can go a long way to meet the electrical power needs of Africans.

However, the rekindled interest of Nigeria’s current government to invest in the mimosa solar project has been endorsed by Nigerians. Power challenges have placed the government in a tight position due to pressure from the Nigerian public. Huge financial investments in hydro and fossil fuel power to drive the country’s manufacturing and domestic sectors have not yielded sufficient energy. Now, the government is focusing on providing a renewable alternative through sustainable solar energy that is viable for both urban and rural settlements.

Before long, the effects of the introduction of mimosa technology may be felt across African markets. Renewable energy from the mimosa weed provides much more clean energy than most renewable energy sources. This is because water is used in the extraction process.

In our developing economy, the mimosa weed renewable energy endeavor could generate new jobs, but support is needed to make this happen. Government and non-governmental organizations should encourage investigation into the prospects, development, and mass production of mimosa solar panels. 

*****

*****

Justus Nwaoga, is a pharmacist and a science technologist. He is presently a consultant, at the Mimosa Weed Renewable Energy Endeavour at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. As a result of his project on mimosa power generation, he was selected as one of the top 10 innovators in Africa in 2013.  

[Photos courtesy of H. Zell and Justus Nwaoga]

Share/Save

Anonymous's picture
TickleMe Plants for the Classroom


Thank you for this article as I have never heard of using Mimosa pudica, more commonly known as the TickleMe Plant in the USA, as a source for producing a Solar Cell. My students and friends will love hearing about the TickleMe Plant Solar Cell as they already love growing this plant and watching its leaves move when tickled. Thank you for this interesting sustainable project idea. I wish you the best of luck with this amazing solar project for the people of Africa.
Post new comment
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account, used to display your avatar.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image. Ignore spaces and be careful about upper and lower case.
FALL FUNDRAISER

 

Around WPI

Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa 

This paper, “Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenging the Narratives of the War on Terror,” examines the history of Islamic movements in Africa's Sahel region to contextualize current conflicts.

World Economic Roundtable with Vicente Fox 

In this World Economic Roundtable, former Mexican President Vicente Fox discusses his current quest to make his country a hub for technology. 

Intern at World Policy


Want to join our team? Looking for an experience at one of the most highly sought-after internships for ambitious students? Application details here.

 

Al Gore presides over Arctic Roundtable 

As the United States prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, this inaugural convening of the Arctic Deeply Roundtables launches a vital conversation for our times. 

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

To learn about the latest in media, programming, and fellowship, subscribe to the World Policy Weekly Newsletter and read through our archives.

World Policy on Facebook

FOLLOW US