In as much as the society is filled with stories of couple of unproductive young people who are eating up their future today, there is yet a generation of young people who are positive and adding value to their lives in their chosen fields of endeavors, youths who chose not to look the other way when they see problems, but to take a stand, youth who have distinguished themselves by their innovative local solutions to urgent global challenges, youth who exhibited outstanding contributions to improving the lives of others, who have carved a niche for themselves by remaining focused on their dreams. Joel Nwaeze started fixing his dad’s motorcycle at age 10 and at 30 now he converts vegetable oil to bio-friendly fuel for driving engines with locally-sourced materials and simple tools.

Joel Nwaeze is an agricultural engineering graduate of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), the only son of his parents. At age 10, his seeing his passion for technical work, especially the day he fix his dad’s bad motorcycle I his absence, expose him to learning how to fix automobiles alongside schooling(secondary school). His father was afraid of allowing him use his only motorcycle to learn how to fix engines. His father never gave up on him as he follow him up to the automobile workshop to monitor his development. He completed his apprenticeship and was presented with a graduation certificate after 5 years.

Since the world is battling with climate change, and most of the heavy duty automobiles and generators now run on diesel engines which emit a lot of pollutants, he decided to work on THE USE OF VEGETABLE OIL AS AN ALTERNATIVE FUEL FOR DIESEL ENGINES.

He found out and learnt how to convert vegetable oil into diesel in other to meet the standard by ASTM for diesel fuels. Main properties are syntax index which tells you the knocking characters; the higher the syntax index the higher the combustion rate which leads to lower incomplete combustion.

After that he was confronted with meetings ASTM standards. In the course of his research, he discover Rudolf Diesel, (the man who discovered diesel engine in 1912) who actually used peanut oil to drive his engine, but then he had the problem of viscosity, that is the four properties of that oil could not meet the standard for diesel engine, it clogs the nozzle which produces a lot of fumes in which nitrogen and sulphur oxide was present (pollutants). As a result, further production had to stop at that time. In his research, he also discovered an American by the name Teckel who produces bio-diesel, and also someone in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria who was trying to do the same, but the mixing proportion of latter was not clear.

He sent Teckel an email, Teckel replied saying he cannot produce the oil, and that he can only give a ratio which he could try and see how it works. Afterwards Teckel sent documents for him to research with. The challenge which he was face with was two options of mixing. “I made samples of the bio-diesel to be produced using alcohol (ethanol/methanol). I discovered one proportion was better than the other, then I used it to power my diesel generator and it worked. This was the breakthrough for me—inflammability and viscosity within range-this was a breakthrough as the international standard only gives you the range not figures”.

After so many research- invested years, he was able to develop a means of converting vegetable oil into diesel. He uses basically local raw materials/content in his production-palm kernel, ethanol etc. he uses his own money and cooking pot to conduct the test. It takes him two weeks to produce one because he does the welding himself.

So far e as one into the design and construction. He has made a continuous production system for the bio-diesel production. Right now, he is working to make the system an automated one, that can operate by itself, and he hopes to use the project in getting his Ph.D.

Joel's machine for processing Bio-Fuel


This invention went for an exhibition in Lagos and won an award. He also entered a competition (young professionals in science) in Ethiopia on April 19th-25th 2009 where it won an African Union award. It appeared in the Guardian newspapers and part of June 2009.  

On getting to nassarawa state for his NYSC, he discovered they have maize in abundance but no local threshers, so he produce modern maize thresher, which was acclaimed as one of its kind. He used about two weeks to produce the processing machine. This won an award of the best Corps member in his branch. He brought back home, where the then Vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Professor Chinedu Nebo saw it and was impressed. As a result, they offered him employment as a graduate assistant in UNN.

So far challenges have come from tutors in school and the economic situation. He has been using his private funds, except for a few handy supports.

His driving force has been to impact positively on the society and not just survival.

His advice to the youths and parents out there is to support their wards in realizing their potential early. He also encourages youth to work hard and be patient.

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