The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), in collaboration with some Nigerian researchers, have developed automotive brake-pads from palm kernel shells. BINTA SHAMA writes

Knowledge is Power

Nigeria is a great country and her citizens in twined with the good things of life. It is often said that any automobile produced in any part of the world will likely be on Nigeria roads within the shortest period.

Palm kernel shells, which an average Nigerian farmer considers as waste and ‘throws into the fire’ as fuel, may soon be an expensive commodity, as the country has successfully turned it into raw materials for brake pads, a motor part.

In most of our villages, palm kernel shells were used for heating purposes, you burn them. But this research has shown that it can be used to make brake pad as the friction material, and it has shown very good results which makes it more exciting.

The overall aim is to meet the massive market demand for brake pads on daily basis to encourage our own local contents.

Research work in progress

The RMRDC boss, Dr Hussaini Ibrahim, keeping the candle burning of his predecessor’s work, is upbeat on the production of locally made brake pads and has on his desk to bring to lime-light very soon.

According to the Deputy Director, Public Affairs Unit of the council, Mr Chuks Ngaha, spokes man to the Director General, said that innovation which is part of the Council’s initiative would soon be certified for public use.

“The innovation was part of the Council’s mandate to promote the usage of local raw materials in the manufacturing sector, as well as develop local content and create jobs. This being one of the major assignments for the RMRDC Director-General, Dr Hussaini Ibrahim”, he added.

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Excitement about the product

He said the auto industries are really excited about the product; and that the only thing pending is to actually put the brake-pads on a vehicle and test run the product for months, to reach the proof of perfection. He also described it as an improvement on the existing ones made from other products.

He assured Nigerians that the brake-pads that would be produced locally within the country would be better than foreign ones that are made with asbestos.

“It would last longer than the imported ones and likely to be more affordable,’’ he said.

Ngaha said that the product, when finally rolled out, would stimulate research interests in exploring local replacement for other imported raw materials.

He said that the effort would help in the facilitation, development and utilization of local raw materials by Nigerian manufacturers.

The research on the production of automotive brake pads and linings using palm kernel shell was said to have commenced since the year 2010, being funded by the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) during the tenure of Professor Peter Onwualu, as the Director General of the council then.

Following up with the research, the council in 2013 came up with a new development to achieve the implementation and success of this research work by providing grant to a young man from Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, under the national design competition, to produce brake pad, using palm kernel shells as a raw material.

The material being a good subpart enabled the young man to come up with a design and to also produce the material.

Exploiting palm kernel shell

An interim report on the development of asbestos-free automotive brake pad using palm kernel shell (PKS) as frictional filler material is presented. This was with a view to exploiting the characteristics of the PKS, which are largely deposited as waste from palm oil production, in replacing asbestos which has been found to be carcinogenic.

Two sets of brake pads with identical ingredients but using either PKS or asbestos as base material were produced, following standard procedures employed by commercial manufacturers.

The physical, thermal, mechanical and tribological properties of the PKS-based brake pads were evaluated, compared with the values for the asbestos-based brake pads, and weighted against established recommendations of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON). It was observed that the properties of the PKS-based brake pad wholly satisfied the recommendations of SON. It was better than the asbestos-based brake-pad in terms of lower specific gravity; lower percentage swelling, when wet; higher heat resistance, heat dissipation and coefficient of friction. It, also, exhibited lower wear rate, but similar trend with the asbestos-based brake-pad. It was, however, characterized by lower bonding to back-plate, hardness and shear strength; albeit, within the required standards.

The PKS is therefore suitable for use as friction material in automotive brake-pads. Current investigation is on field testing and reformulation of the composite for enhanced performance.

Importance of raw materials in the country

The Director General RMRDC Dr Hussaini Ibrahim said the strategy for competitiveness in raw materials and products development in the country was initiated by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, to harness Nigeria’s potentials in research and development institutions.

“The National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria was generated to enable the country attains sustainable socioeconomic growth and development”.

“Today, particularly with the recession, Nigeria is confronted with the challenges of business failures, factory closures, high unemployment and inflationary pressures. “Also we are plagued with depleted foreign exchange earnings and reserve, drastic devaluation of the national currency, huge arrears of workers’ salaries and pension, among others.”

Aimed goals that are achievable

Ibrahim said the strategy which would be in partnership with industries and businesses would aid to accelerate and re-direct the pathways to recovery and growth of the economy. The director general said the initiative was aimed at attaining global competitiveness in raw materials and products development with the attendant boosts in local and international confidence in Made-in-Nigeria products and services.

Hussaini said the unique features of the strategy include forging partnerships among research and development institutions with industries, businesses and entrepreneurs towards providing solid and quality national infrastructure.

It also aims at ensuring coordinated mapping of some 100 Nigerian raw materials and products on the United Nations harmonized classification scheme map. Aligning with the Nation’s Research and Development Institutions with the industrial sector of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

Corresponding charting and linkage of several Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the organized private sector in line with the United Nations Standard International Trade Classification scheme. Emphasizing on globally-accepted result-based management logical frameworks for the implementation of all components.

He said the successful implementation of the strategy would be far-reaching and beneficial to Nigeria as it would enhance alliance among Nigerian scientists and entrepreneurs, industries and businesses.


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