Prof. Oboirien’s inaugural address spotlights sustainable energy solutions

Professor Bilainu Oboirien presented his professorial inauguration address “Biomass Gasification, Circular Economy, Energy Storage and Energy Transition” in front of invited guests at the Ubuntu Chambers, Madibeng Building, at the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Kingsway Campus, on Wednesday 11 October 2023.

Introducing him, Dr Nolitha Vukuza, Senior Executive Director: University Relations, Student Affairs and UJ Sport, said the inaugural lecture served as an expression of welcome and as a platform for professors to display their expertise and showcase their research.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE), Professor Daniel Mashao welcomed Prof Oboirien, a Professor in Chemical Engineering.

From left to right: Professor Daniel Mashao;  Professor Bilainu Oboirien; and Dr Nolitha Vukuza

Biomass gasification and its role in energy transition

In his address Prof Oboirien explored how Biomass gasification has been identified as a key technology in achieving flexibility in modern bioenergy systems and for energy transition.

The International Energy Agency has identified the role of bioenergy in the transition to a net zero energy system by 2050.

The objective of his lecture was to present technical solutions associated with thermal recovery of energy from the gasification of biomass to achieve net zero CO2 emission and the circular use of waste material generated from the gasification process for the storage of renewable energy based on some research activities carried out from his research group over a decade.

These solutions, according to Prof Oboirien, have practical applications in the design and operation of integrated biomass torrefaction and gasification for electricity and heat production and in the storage of renewable energy using Power to Gas technology and the use of anode material in Lithium batteries for energy storage.

In summary, all these practical applications will assist in the energy transition to low carbon process and net-zero energy emission systems.

Prof Oboirien also integrated some of these topics in process design and energy systems modules he teaches to his honours students in the department of chemical engineering at UJ.

Academic contributions and recognition

Prof Oboirien is a chartered chemical engineer with the Engineering Council of the United Kingdom and a member of the Institute of Chemical Engineers in the United Kingdom and a C-rated Researcher by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

The overarching goal of his research is to solve technical problems associated with the thermal recovery of energy from solid fuels to achieve net zero CO2 emission and the circular use of waste material generated from the thermal recovery of energy for the storage of renewable energy.

Professor Oboirien’s research focuses on biomass combustion, CO2 capture methods, waste-to-energy, and energy storage. He has co-authored 65 articles in prominent journals, reviewed for top energy journals, and presented 15 conference papers. His work is highly cited, with Scopus and Google Scholar h-indices of 19 and 22, respectively. Currently, he supervises 6 Ph.D. and 4 master’s students and mentors 2 post-doctoral fellows.

Professor Oboirien has successfully guided 5 Ph.D. and 10 master’s students to graduation and mentored a post-doctoral fellow. His research is notably cited, with a 14% higher Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) compared to the UJ bibliometric report’s average. Moreover, his publications receive 53% more views compared to the average Field Weighted View Impact (FWVI). He has also contributed to academia as a journal reviewer, guest speaker at various academic forums, Guest Editor for reputable journals, and a grant proposal reviewer for esteemed institutions like the Czech Academy of Sciences, the National Science Centre Poland, and the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

A brief response by Professor Bilal Patel, an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Chemical Engineering, College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET), Unisa followed after the address by Prof Oboirien.

Watch the inauguration here: Professorial Inauguration:  Prof Bilainu Oboirien  (FEBE)

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