An eco-friendly fuel fights air pollution in Africa

Posted on 28 March 2019.

In Nigeria, Femi Oye has devised a simple circular solution to reduce household air pollution: a portable cooker powered by an eco-friendly cooking gel.

Two years’ research to develop the ethanol and biomass based gel.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe polluted air. Although all the world’s regions are affected, the African continent (along with Asia) has the largest number of pollution-related premature deaths. Dense city traffic, poor quality gasoline, waste incineration, inadequately treated factory fumes... Air pollution in Africa has worsened considerably over recent years.

But the problem is also inside people’s homes. The main culprit is charcoal, which is still the most frequently used fuel for cooking. Femi Oye, a thirty-year-old Nigerian, has come up with an innovative solution to the problem: a portable cooker powered by an eco-friendly cooking gel.

Two years’ research were needed for Femi Oye and his team to develop the gel. A plant in Lagos produces the fuel from ethanol and biomass - an organic material made up of sawdust, and agricultural and food waste. The latest ingredient being tried in the "recipe" is water hyacinth, an aquatic plant that absorbs CO2 emissions.

No smoke is emitted when the gel burns. And this innovative fuel has even more advantages: it is safer because the risk of accidental explosion is limited and it can be sold in recycled plastic bottles. In 2012, Femi Oye launched the Green Energy BioFuels brand to market the gel along with the portable cooker. The most practical way of making this innovation accessible to as many people as possible.


A promising source of renewable energy

The Lagos plant currently produces 50,000 liters of gel daily. So far the stoves are in more than 200,000 homes. Thanks to the very low emissions from the gel, the founder of Green Energy BioFuels estimates that already 600,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided. Femi Oye hopes to distribute as many of these ecological cookers as possible and so limit indoor pollution. The potential has been recognized – it is approved by the United Nations Development Program and the Bank of Industry (BOI) for the Renewable Energy Access Facility project.