You are on page 1of 79

Continental J.

Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.


A. B. Aliyu, Hassan Yunusa, A A Adamu

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria

This project studied both historical as well as metallurgical aspect of metal
working. It compared the ancient metallurgical technology of Katsina state with
modern ones; its development and collapse of the industry. Some metallurgical
examinations and tests were carried out on some of the blacksmiths to asses the
level of development attained by these practices. Based on the study carried out,
ways of improvement were suggested.

KEYWORDS: Archeometallurgy, Katsina State, Blacksmiths, Primitive

Furnaces, Smelting, Smithing.

Iron smelting in Hausaland predated the Jihad of 1804. Available evidence indicated that Katsina zone
of Hausaland, where iron working has been going on for over 1000 years (Okafor, 1997), was the most
active in this activity. This is because of the abundant iron ore deposits found in most parts of this area.
Notable in this area are Pauwa, Katsina and Lafiaro, where the ore deposits are found in stony lands.

The introduction of steel during the colonial era put a halt to iron mining and smelting, and was in fact
completely abandoned, with a very few of the miners and smelters turning to blacksmiths.

The two most common ways of detecting the presence of the ore by the local miners were by noticing
its presence on the earth’s surface and by noticing the ore’s particle-heaps deposited by ants around
their habitats. The ore was then mined (usually by a group of miners and always during the dry season)
by digging a trench to the depth at which the ore deposit was met. The mined ore was then transported
to the area designated for smelting, usually where there was abundant presence of water, wood and

The smelting operation comprised of building a furnace, which is a granary-like structure made of fine
clay and which usually took about ten days (including the drying period). Meanwhile, a ditch, about 20
ft deep was dug and filled with grasses. Next, about four nozzles (Tuyeres) were built around the ditch.
The furnace was then placed over the ditch and nozzles. Next, about five baskets of charcoal were
placed inside the furnace, followed by about nineteen baskets of the raw ore, on top of which
substantial logs of hard wood were placed. Fire was then made and allowed to burn until the ore
smelted into iron. This took between 30 and 36 hours. Normally, the slog product soaked away into the
ground through the grasses. The resulting pig iron took 2 to 3 days to completely cool before it was

The pig iron was then sold to the blacksmiths who then used it to manufacture such iron wares as locks,
guns, hoe blades, etc.

This work is aimed at studying the ancient iron working processes in Katsina state of Nigeria, from ore
mining stage through the smelting to the smithing stages. These processes would then be compared
with the modern methods and ways of improving the ancient one suggested.

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

Table 1: Comparison of the primitive furnace with the modern blast furnace.
Primitive Furnace Modern (Blast) Furnace
The height of the primitive furnace was not more The height of the blast furnace is about 20m or
than 2m, and the diameter was about 0.5m at the more from the bottom to the top of the furnace.
top and 2m at the bottom.
Made of clay mixed with grasses. Generally made of thick steel shell lined with
refractory bricks on the inside.
Charcoal used as fuel. Coke used as fuel.
The maximum temperature attained by any means Can attain up to 2000ºC and as such both the slag
did not exceed 1000ºC and as such only the slag and iron can be melted as the melting point of iron
could be melted while the spongy iron formed is 1500º.
Each furnace was capable of smelting at most Capable of producing substantial amount of iron
only about 0.3 tons of iron at a time and could be on hourly basis, with the furnace operating for
done in 30 to 36 hours. several years nonstop.
During smelting operation, special sand was used Calcium carbonate or limonite is used as flux and
as flux which gave the slag some suitable the slag has suitable composition in iron
composition. reduction.
Had between 4 to 5 tuyeres and were bellows- Has as many tuyeres as possible, depending on
driven and forced draught. the capacity of the blast furnace and the tuyeres
are forced draught.
A single furnace could only be used for smelting Once it is in use, it can be in operation for many
four times at the most after which it was discarded years without shut down.
for a new one.


The earliest known occurrence of iron smelting in tropical Africa comes from Taruga (southern
Kaduna, Nigeria) and dated back to 400 BC. Evidence of the development of iron technology in Africa
comes fro two sources: archeology and ethnography [Andah, 1997].

In Katsina state, there are many iron smelting sites [Okafor, 1997], including Katsina, Lafiaro, Daura,
Kankara (Pauwa) and Tama, where many slag blocks, fragments of clay nozzles (tuyeres), baked red
mud walls of furnaces, and other industrial debris could still be found today. In fact, the significant role
played by the Kankara region in iron working is seen by some writers as the main iron production
centre in the whole of Hausaland.

Katsina smiths have been involved for many centuries in the manufacture of essential metal ware
products for both local consumption and for sale outside the region. The production, organization,
distribution, and exchange of these goods involved, at different stages, miners, smelters, dealers,
traders from far and near, the smiths, and the commission agents.

The smiths, as a rule, did not smelt or mine ores, which are normally done by professional ore miners
and smelters. The smiths from rural areas would travel around the various mining camps to buy iron for
themselves and for other smiths back home. The blacksmiths who were skilled enough to mine and
smelt their own ore would first have to sought permission from their chief in the area.

Perfection of skills which lead to very high skills was enhanced by the exchange of ideas between
industrialists from other areas like Kano, Sokoto, and Zamfara who converged at these areas like
Pauwa for production and manufacture of iron wares.

There were also skills specializations by different groups dating back from the pre-colonial era. This is
evidenced by the fact that smiths from Gwangwan and Kofar Kaura wards specialized in such horse-
riding equipment as stirrups and swords; those from Kofar Keke in swords; Saulawa in manufacture of
door locks; and those from Masanawa in agricultural implements like ploughs, hoes and axes. The
skills were so perfected that hardly did the key to one lock unlocks another, for example.

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

Though smithing was basically a family profession that was passed down from generation to
generation of the family, apprenticeship, involving others with no smithing background, was also
practiced. The apprentice did not pay tuition and could come and go as he pleased.

Table 2: Chemical constituent of slag from bloomery iron smelting

Constituent Sample 1 Sample 2
Mean weight (%) Standard Mean weight (%) Standard
Deviation Deviation
FeO 66.28 0.27 68.76 0.34
Al2O3 7.26 0.79 7.67 0.53
MgO - - - -
SiO2 21.39 0.60 21.70 0.13
TiO2 0.97 0.10 1.04 0.17
MnO 1.55 0.14 0.05 0.03
P 2O 5 0.82 0.06 0.46 0.09
CaO 1.06 0.11 0.17 0.02
S 0.05 0.07 - -
V 2O 5 0.11 0.11 0.15 0.18
K 2O 0.50 0.02 - -
Total 99.99 - 100 -

The smiths market their products through middlemen who buy the products in bulk for sale in the
markets. However, smiths located in the markets’ immediate environments, such as those at
Gwangwan, could also sell their wares directly in the market.


Field visits were taken to various ancient mining, and smelting sites, as well at to some existing
blacksmiths’ workshops. It was observed in particular, that the blacksmiths’ choice of materials, heat
treatment sequences, and shaping and joining operations left some room for improvement if the
potentials of iron working in these areas are to be fully realized.

Source of Iron
Throughout a great part of Africa (including Nigeria), there has been, especially in the past, an
extensive tree cover to provide fuel, and sizable deposits of ores of iron are also found, extensively in
the form of hematite or limonite which are also essential constituents of laterites and other widespread
derived or residual rocks. Another source of iron extensively used by primitive smelters is magnetite.
Magnetite occurs as a constituent of the river and stream sands in many parts of Africa, and can often
be seen, after heavy rain, as a deposit of black sand on the beds of shallow streams. The relative iron
content of these ores is: magnetite (Fe3O4), 72.4%; hematite (Fe2O3), 70%; and limonite, 20-55%.

The iron ore resource of Katsina is mainly a residual ferrugnised laterite – a hard compact and
sometimes perforated rusty brown rock that occurs in layers, either capping weathered inselbergs or as
a layer below the top soil in some laterite pits. Important locations include Makurdi Hills, Dan-ali Hills,
Lafiaro and Pauwa. This ferrugnised laterite contains the iron mineral limonite. It is, of course, low
grade from the mineral content point of view.

Before the introduction of European scrap iron, much of the iron worked by smiths in Katsina and other
areas like Kano, were mined and smelted in southern Katsina. Katsina smelters also supplied iron to
Sokoto and other places in Hausaland.

The Primitive Furnace and Smelting Operations

As far as can be deduced from archeological evidences, the shaft type of furnace seem to be the
earliest, and it is the most widespread in areas of Katsina, Kano and Zaria in particular and in
Hausaland in general. The quality of this furnace depends on the kind of earth used, how it was heat-

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

treated, and how many times it could be used. If it can be used more than one time, then it would be
only the tuyeres that would require changing.

The furnace was built of clay mixed with grass. It was usually 2 metres high (figures 1 and 2) and an
average man could encircle it with his arms. It has a small hole about half way up through which
happenings inside the furnace could be viewed and another hole at the bottom through

Table 3: Hardness values from laboratory tests.

Sample 1 2 3 HARDNESS
Unforged 50 49 50 49.67
Chisel (forged 98 100 97 98.33
Hoe blade 91 85 89 88.33
(forged item)

which the slag ran into a pit. Air is blown into the furnace through openings at a level above the
bottom. The space below the air entrance provided a place for the sponge to form, where it would not
be exposed to oxygen from air, which otherwise would combine with the reduced iron to form iron

The furnaces were bellows-driven. The bellows consisted of two bladders made from goat skin, with
wooden handles fixed to the tops and with wooden tubes leading from the bottom of the bellows into
the tuyeres which delivered the air into the furnace.

Conditions prevalent in the shaft furnace were favourable to carbon absorption: high temperatures
could be attained and reduction of iron ore began at considerable level above the combustion zone so
that any reduced iron would be in contact with hot carbon for a longer time at higher temperatures than
say in the pit or hearth type furnaces.

The carbon from charcoal used as fuel, apart from supplying the necessary heat, also provided the
chemical agent to reduce the iron from its oxide, protected the reduced iron from being re-oxidized so
long as it was surrounded by hot carbon; and could provide alloying material for the reduced iron to
form iron-carbon alloys of several types.

These furnaces have the limitations of not being able to attain melting point temperature of iron;
excessive heat loss through the walls and top; absence of slag tapping provisions in some of them,
which calls for demolition and rebuilding of another furnace whenever the slag pit was filled; cracking
of the walls at high temperatures since they have no shields and so stopping the smelting operations to
avoid collapse of the furnace; and negligible pre-heating of the air. Figure 1 depicts these primitive
furnaces. Table 1 compares the primitive furnace with the modern blast furnace.

Smelting – the reduction of iron ore – takes place at a temperature of about 700ºC in the primitive
furnace. This temperature is by far below the melting point of iron (1500ºC). in the modern industrial
blast furnaces, the iron from the ore separates from the slag (and being heavier than the later) runs to
the bottom of the furnace from where it is poured into casting moulds to form pig iron while the slag is
run off.

The method of producing iron in the primitive furnace is much more complicated than it is in the
modern furnace. In the former, iron ore together with a special charcoal (produced from hard wood)
were charged into furnace from the top and then the charcoal was lighted. The carbon from the charcoal
burns and combines with oxygen from the air to form carbon monoxide. The hot gas passes up through
the furnace and reacts with the iron oxide (ore) by removing oxygen from it, forming carbon dioxide
and leaving pure chemically deposited iron (bloom). The reduction process actually begins at very low
temperature, probably about 450ºC [Enozie, 1992]. The reaction equations are:

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

2C + O2 → 2CO + Heat
Fe2 O3 + 3CO → 2 Fe + 3CO2

The iron produced in this process has not melted; it has been chemically deposited in very small
quantities which, due to the influence of the higher temperature near the bottom, become soft and
adhere to one another or to the slag and unconsumed charcoal to form a loosely coherent mass known
as sponge iron.

Figure 1: A drawing of the primitive furnaces on a smelting site.

Impurities in the iron ore, such as silica combined with some of the iron oxide for form a liquid
siliceous slag of high iron content, at leas part of which permeated the pores of the sponge iron, while
the remainder ran out of the furnace bottom opening into the pit.
After a sponge of sufficient size had formed, it was suitable for making tools so the blacksmiths refined
it. This was done by reheating the iron with charcoal and repeatedly hammering it so as to express the
remaining slag and weld the iron crystals together.
The smelting of iron is a task needing and using up much energy and very much complicated by ritual
which, if not properly observed, it was believed, the smelting process would fail.

Bloomery Slags
Bloomery slags in the primitive iron smelting process were once solidified molten silicate matter that
resulted from the reduction of iron ore, which was composed of gangue material from the iron ore, fuel
ash and refractory materials. When chemically analyzed, slag from smelting operations contain higher
proportion of silica than the that from smithing operations. On the other hand, smithing slag has a
higher proportion of manganese than did that from smelting [Andah, 1997].

Tap slag was the most prominent in shaft furnace used in Hausaland in bloomery iron smelting. Here
the furnace was provided with an aperture for draining the molten slag out of the furnace while the
smelting was in progress. The molten slag solidified outside the furnace. Such tap slag was flattish in
form with lava-like ripple appearance.

Chemically, the bloomery slag was composed mainly of iron oxide and silicate which together made up
over 90% of slag constituent. Iron silicate slag from bloomery iron smelting was generally fayalitic
(2FeO.S2O2) in composition. However, there was slag in which MnO, MnO, or CaO replaced the FeO
in the iron silicate to form manganese, magnesium, or calcium silicate respectively. In some other
metal working operations such as smithing and forging of blooms in the hearth, as well as the smelting
of copper and lead ores, where iron ore was used to flux the smelt, produced fayalitic slag. Table 2

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

shows the chemical constituents found in various samples of the slag from bloomery iron smelting sites
that were analyzed.

Factors upon which slag mineral composition depend were observed to include: ore composition;
chemical composition of fuel used; chemical composition of the refractory material used; chemical
composition of any flux(es) used; the rate of air blast; the state of the slag as it is removed from the
furnace (i.e. whether it was tapped in molten state or removed after solidification in the furnace); and
the surrounding conditions of the slag since it was formed.

While the blacksmiths worked mild steel and obtained their raw materials from the local miners and
smelters, the whitesmiths – who worked brass, gold, silver, etc – obtained their raw materials mostly
from imports from Asia, and Europe. Among this later smiths, tin was the only metal obtained and

Figure 2: Sections through a primitive furnace.

smelted locally up to 1913 [Enozie, 1992]. On the other hand, blacksmithing is the one considered to
be wholly indigenous before the eighteenth century.

Though blacksmithing is an ancient craft who’s forging techniques is the progenitor of the various
metal-forming operations in use today, the process among the local people still remains primitive and
rudimentary that it is hardly employed as a viable means of commercial production of metal ware.

The various operations undertaken by the local blacksmiths include the following:
Heating: in which the work piece is buried in a mass of charcoal at the exhaust of the bellows in the
hearth and then heated to cherry-red hotness – corresponding to temperatures in the austenite range –
and held there for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Forging: in which the heated piece is hammered, punched or chiseled into a desired shape.
Casting: which is carried out only by the whitesmiths as the blacksmith is unable to reach sufficient
temperatures to melt the steel in the hearth, whereas the whitesmith’s metals have lower melting
temperatures and is able to cast metals.

In the open mould method, the molten metal was poured into an open mould and allowed to solidify,
after which the solid metal was hammered to strain-harden and then heated and bent to shape. This
was mostly utilized to produce bangles. In the lost wax method, a model o the object was made and
was then covered with clay mixed with termite earth. This was then baked, whereupon the wax ran out
of the mould and leaving it exactly of the desired shape. The casting was then made by pouring the
molten metal into the baked mould. After cooling, the mould was broken, leaving the casting intact.

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

Mixing the clay with termite earth made the clay more focused, thereby helping in eliminating cavity
defects. This method has been revived in the last century in the casting of gas turbine blades.

Tempering: for tools like the chisels in which only the cutting parts need hardening, the blacksmiths
heat the tool to cherry-red hotness, and quenching only the cutting edge. The cooled end was then
cleaned and the heat from the shank of the tool was allowed to temper the cutting edge to the correct
colour, after which the whole tool was quenched.

Normalizing: here, the blacksmith heated the steel to red hotness and soaked it for sometime –
depending on the thickness of the article – in a medium such as water or oil. It was then allowed to cool
in air. A softer material was obtained in the end.

Joining: metals were joined by the smiths by brazing and welding. In brazing (and soldering), the two
surfaces to be joined were held in place over fire and finely ground pieces of bottle glass (which acted
as flux) was spread over the surfaces. A piece of brass (solder) was then placed at the top and heated
until it melted and spread onto the spaces between the surfaces. A strong joint was formed after

Plate 1B: Forged Sample

Plate 1A: Unforged Sample (From a hoe blade) Plate 1C: Forged Sample
(Normalized Structure) (from a quenched chisel
cutting edge)

In welding, the parts to be joined were immersed in wet clay sand (flux) and heated to cherry-red
hotness and then the hot pieces were hammered to unite the surfaces over an anvil. The flux combined
with the iron oxide produced by heating to high temperature and formed a fusible slag which was
scattered by the hammer blows.

Quenching: the local blacksmiths largely employed water as a quenching medium. Though rarely, they
also used groundnut oil especially where the degree of hardness required was not appreciable.

One sample each from the blacksmiths forge item and from the unforged material (the blacksmith’s
input material) was laboratory-tested at the Materials Science Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering
Department, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria. May, 1995.

The forged sample was sectioned, ground flat and rough-polished on glycerol-lubricated silicon carbide
paper. The grinding and polishing were done very slowly to avoid heating and oxidation, the depth of
grinding and polishing being sufficient to eliminate damage arising from specimen preparation. The
sample from the unforged material was also similarly prepared for testing.

The harness test was conducted on the samples using only the Rockwell B-scale, as the deformation
and heat-treatment employed by the blacksmith was not expected to yield higher hardness in the mild
steel he employed.

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

For the microstructure observations, the fine-polished and etched specimens were mounted on the
metallurgical microscope and the observed images were sketched. The etching reagent used was 2%
nitric acid-methyl alcohol. Test results are shown in Table 3 and in Appendix A.


No doubt, the coming into contact with Europeans contributed significantly to the decline of the iron
smelting in Katsina. As some of the blacksmiths interviewed put it, that though tools made from locally
smelted iron were stronger than those made from imported iron – obtained in forms of rods and bars
from iron containers of paints, engine oil, corrugated iron sheets, etc – they preferred the imported iron
because it was easy to work, cheap to buy and readily available. Among the factors that contributed to
the decline include the following:

The British Conquest

Immediately after the conquest of Katsina emirate in 1900 by the British, the later prohibited the
bearing and production weapons. This effectively cut the potential of the blacksmith by more than half
since the society for which he worked was war-faring and mainly agrarian.

Further, in 1902, the British enacted a lands proclamation edict number thirteen [Mukhtar, 1990] which
vested ownership of all lands and the resources therein in the hands of Britain, which also regulates the
utilization of the land and its resources. The edict deprived the entire people of the area the ownership
of any unoccupied and uncultivated lands and also deprived them access to any minerals from the
lands. This contributed immensely to the collapse of indigenous mining and smelting. For example, in
1925 [Mukhtar, 1990] in Pauwa, the colonial state not only made all independent mining illegal, but
also closed down eighteen local iron smelting furnaces. The colonialists also established forest reserves
where no wood was obtained for any purpose as well as taxing of the trees used in places not reserved.
This made it further difficult for local smelting which depended largely on wood fuel, i.e. even if the
smelting could be done illegally.

The creation of boundaries by the British constituted barriers to population movements, interactions,
trade and exchange of ideas and skills. Thus, trade between communities collapsed and so did the
seasonal migration to the centres of iron mining and smelting. This was further aided by the imposition
of discriminatory custom duties against local resources and products. These duties favoured European
products whose markets gradually replaced those of their indigenous counterparts.

The British, by its imports policy, flooded the markets with European scraps and manufactured goods.
The supply and distribution of these to all areas in northern Nigeria were greatly increased after 1911
when the railway reached Zaria and Kano. This further contributed to the decline in local iron
production. It is probable that by the end of the 1930’s, locally mined iron had been replaced almost
completely by the imported scrap metal [Gregory, 1972].

Considering the poor economic status of the miners, smelters and blacksmiths, imported iron was not
cheap by any standard. This, coupled with the special tax imposed on blacksmiths, forced many of
them to abandon the craft for other professions. The few that held on to the craft resorted to securing
metal supplies from the railways in Kano and Zaria. Consequently, theft of railway iron became

Lastly, the maintenance of the emir’s palace and the central prison – a responsibility assigned to the
city blacksmiths under the direction of the “Chief of Blacksmiths” – was taken over by the then newly
established public works department. These artisans thus lost their function and importance.
The result of all these factors was the stagnation and deterioration of the techniques and skills involved
in the industry, leading finally to its collapse.

Other Factors
1. Importation of Firearms: One of the early salient factors for the decline of iron working is the
importation of firearms. During the last decade of the nineteenth century, imported firearms became
generally available in northern Nigeria. Thus, the market for the locally made ones by the blacksmiths

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

rapidly declined as they were forced to abandon the making of such items as paddled amour, spears and
swords mostly used for defence and hunting.

2. Lack of Planned Apprenticeship: Apprenticeship was very informal: no binding contract; no

payment of fees involved; and no fixed apprenticeship duration. So the apprentice may come and go as
he pleases and may pay little or no attention to the craft. The long-term impact of this is that the art
would be poorly transmitted from generation to generation.

3. Lack of Research Culture: No body – not even the artisans themselves – engaged in research in this
area to seek to improve the quality of their work. Thus, no one sought to know why things happened
the way they do; certainly, curiosity about certain aspects of their work would have enlightened them
on not only how things happened and so improve on their work and products, but also pave way for
future developments.

4 Conservatism: The artisans were not willing to be introduced to new technological innovations, even
if those things meant improving on the primitive methods. The attitude was one of “whatever was good
for our ancestors is also good for us”. For example, they used charcoal from ‘Kirya’ tree (Pro Sopic
Africa) which was scarce and obtained from long distances, when coke was more available and
effective and could have been used.

5. Lack of Encouragement/Government Assistance: Because these artisans largely depended for their
means of livelihood more on farming than on the art of iron working, their key functions, importance
and value to themselves and to the society were eclipsed. They ought to have been encouraged by
government, both financially and by way of easy access to the resources they used. These would have
boosted their production capacity.

6. Change of Attitude: Because of the poor economic status of the smiths and smelters, the later
generations of young men were less interested in these arts and would rather look for jobs with better
prospect of pay.

7. No Formation of Guilds: In the words of [Yusuf, 1996], “generally, in the whole of Hausaland, there
was the lack of highly developed and regular cooperation between the artisans in the conventional
guild. Instead, we had a situation in which each of the separated clusters of blacksmiths was essentially
autonomous, with the individual smiths of each group organizing their work quite independently of
each other, and setting their own prices and standards of production”. This limited the transfer of skills
between artisans and this further retarded the progress of the craft.

In the equivalent European industry, it is instructive to note that, in addition to the machinery, a most
decisive factor in the growth of the industry was the change-over from domestic production to the
factory system, with the guild making the intermediate stage.

The austenite phase change is the most critical in the diversification of mechanical properties of steel in
the sense that every equilibrium phase transformation has to pass through this phase. The measure,
therefore, of the adequacy of the blacksmith’s heat treatment depends largely on whether or not the
austenite region was attained. If it is then air-cooled, the product should reveal fine-pearlite structure.

A comparison of plate 1A with other plates (1B, and 1C) reveals that the equilibrium (pearlite) phase
transformation occurred in the forged samples – indicating the austenite phase change. Hence, the
blacksmith’s operations are viable as a means of imparting versatile micro-structures and therefore
mechanical properties of the steel.

Degree of Deformation
This is limited by human strength, as well as by the blacksmith’s disinclination to go to higher
temperatures such as yellow-white hotness or to re-heat the job frequently between forging blows.
However, remarkable extents of deformation were achieved in some cases, such as when a digger or a

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

hoe is flattened from 2-inch round bar to a bladed end only 1/8 as thick as the original thickness. This
represents a very severe deformation. Matchets, sickles, axes and hoes, unless they are made from coils
(strips), which are not yet made locally, represent even more severe deformations. Thus, the
blacksmith’s operations are adequate in this regard. The degree of deformation gives rise to the
significant alteration of mechanical properties evident in Table 3.

Mechanical Properties
The result of hardness test and the micro-structure details are shown in Table 3 and on Plates 1A, 1B
and 1C, respectively. The hardness is seen to be higher in the forged samples than in the unforged
samples. This means that the tensile strength is also higher in the forged samples. Since ductility
decreases with increasing hardness, it can be said that the ductility of the forged samples would be
lower compared to the unforged material. The high strength is significant and is in agreement with
The martensite structure observed in plate 1C indicates that the sample was quenched and further
confirms that austenite will be obtained without the materials being heated to the austenite range. The
clear resolution of pearlite in these structures indicates that equilibrated plain carbon steels.
The microstructure results in plates 1A to 1C all point to a probable composition of the beginning of
material – mild steel. Remarkable directional property was also achieved where the grains were
observed to elongate in the direction of forging. This directionality is parallel to the force that will be
applied to the tool in its working life, which means longer life for the tool.

Uniformity of Deformation
In blacksmithing, deformation of material is very severe and it is seldom uniform over the entire forged
zone. This is evident in the significant scatter of the data in Table 3. It was observed that the
blacksmith’s forging blows are far from uniformity in the hot zone. The piece is usually turned over in
between blows delivered by a hammer. More often than not, the job is done by one man for better
coordination; the job is held in one hand and the hammer in the other hand. Generally, only five to ten
blows are delivered before the piece cools and hardens. The severe deformation imparted after the
workpiece has cooled below the annealing temperature range only serve to produce severe work-
hardening. The result is patchy surface finish and inhomogeneous internal deformation, leading to
inhomogeneity in mechanical properties.

Such inhomogeneous deformation of steel, couple with the normalizing treatment (air-cooling) and
failure to perform follow-up anneal, means a good deal of residual stresses in the product. The
worsened by the fact that only few implements are heated and forged all over; in most cases only the
working end (blade edge) is heated and forged. Thus, severe variation in structure and properties exist
over the implement. The result does not only impair mechanical properties, but also makes the
implement prone to corrosion. This limits long-term use, particularly in sea water or in salt-laden air of
coastal and tropical areas. Inhomogeneity of structure and properties in blacksmith’s products is
probably the greatest shortcoming in the work of the blacksmiths.

Starting Material
The blacksmith’s choice of a starting material is predicated upon convenience, availability and ease of
hot-deformation. He comes up with mild, plain carbon steel. This is an excellent choice from the
standpoint of versatility in the development of structure and property as discussed above. He could
easily generate a great variety in the mechanical properties, hence applications of his products using
this starting material; if only he understood the power of heat treatment in materials.

The hardness and strength required in the blacksmith’s products are not so high as to necessitate going
to alloy or tool steels for the mean time. However, corrosion resistance and aesthetic appeal might
become important factors; in that case, plain carbon steels would no longer be adequate. It is unlikely,
however, that a blacksmith untutored in the science of metal alloying could master the intricacies of
delicate phase balance needed in working with such alloys as stainless steels.

General Discussion
An attempt has been made here to present an account of local iron working processes as accurately as
possible. Until quite recently, and even now, properly recorded processes could probably be counted on

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

the fingers of one’s hand. Different versions of the iron smelting processes were given by different
smiths interviewed. There are many references to iron-smelting in journals concerned with iron and
anthropology, but very often, the accounts are clearly inaccurate in certain respects, and it then
becomes difficult to place any reliability on them. A common mistake is to describe how the iron melts
and runs into a lump at the bottom of the furnace into moulds which are placed around the furnace. In
truth, the iron never melts in primitive furnace; if it did, it then would have formed cast iron, which
would be useless to a smith because he would be unable to work it by the methods at his disposal.

The very few remaining smiths still practicing here today posses still posses the artifice, skill and
talent, although most of them are illiterates with regard to western education which would have helped
them in improving their artifice.

The main aim of this work has been to study the processes employed in iron working in Katsina state
right from the iron ore minting to smelting and through to blacksmithing stages; to compare these
processes with the modern methods; to give the processes some scientific explanation; and to suggest
ways by which the some of the processes still being practiced from the old ways can be improved upon.
Some of the suggested improvements considered fundamental are given below.

Temperature Measuring Techniques: The major essence of heat-treatment is to alter the properties of a
material and this can be achieved largely by control of temperature in the heating process, time for
soaking, and the cooling speed. There is therefore the need to know the temperatures attained during
heating. Bearing in mind that the local smiths cannot read temperature-measuring instruments like the
thermometer, a more practical way to guide them on temperature estimations is needed. Thus, such
methods suggested include:

Indicating paints and crayons (for small-scale heat-treatment): which change colour or appearance at
given temperature ranges. Hence, the paint or crayon could be used to make a mark on the workpiece.
Temper Colours: when a quenched steel is heated, it changes colour which is dependent on the
temperature reached. This method is similar to the first one; so all the smiths need do is to drop a
quenched steel in the hearth and observe the colour it turns to have an idea of the temperature attained.
This method would be applicable to only steel and no other metal.

Carburizing: A method of carburizing is to grind charcoal and using this to cover the workpiece in a
casing (whose material can withstand the carburizing temperatures) and then heating to the carburizing
temperature. The blacksmiths could be taught this simple method.

Casting: In small casting small items like plates and rings the blacksmiths use the lost wax method. In
this process, the wax extension above the wax ring acts as a riser and therefore there are no problems of
shrinkage. However, for bigger castings, the blacksmith needs to be told to provide a riser to
compensate the shrinkage effects.

Quenching methods: To minimize distortions, the blacksmith needs to know that long cylindrical
articles need to be quenched vertically; flat section edge-wise; and that thick ends should enter the bath

Eliminating soft spots: to prevent steam bubbles forming soft spots, the quenching bath should be
agitated. In other words, components should be shaken well in the medium during quenching.
Forging: this should be carried out by a simple mechanical press so as to have uniformity in the
deformation or by using a simple drop forging mechanism, in order to save effort.

Quenching media: the two media that the smiths are familiar with are water and groundnut oil. He
needs to be taught that some modifications like adding salt to the water or warming the water will alter
the cooling speed of the medium. The oils to could be extended to include mineral, animal and plant
oils, each of which has different cooling speed.

A. B. Aliyu et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:1 - 12, 2008

Furnace: improvements in furnace design should be based on the limitations discussed earlier. The
blowers, for example, may replace the bellows in the smiths forge so as to reduce the effort.

The technical aspects of the smelting and smithing processes were discussed right from the mining of
the ore, through smelting to the smithing stages. The smith’s methods of hot-working, degrees of
deformation, and casting methods among others were also critically analyzed and suggestions were put
forward. For sound uniform and versatile development of microstructures and mechanical properties in
the entire products it is very necessary for the smith to adopt a structural approach to pre- and post-
fabrication heat treatment. For this, the smiths need some scientific knowledge of the behaviours of
metals and alloys.

In view of the foregoing study, metallurgical industries that exist today are only remnants of the viable,
sound and developing industries of the pre-colonial period. We have also seen how and why the
industries declined and the point in time this declination began. Also, a concrete basis for development
could be established on a foundation of viable indigenous industries and technology. The professional
experience and spirit of excellence of this practice could be used to assist in laying that foundation. The
past is gone and cannot be retrieved or revived but its spirit and experience can be borrowed to
transform our present situation.

Andah, B. W. (1997) ‘The Epistemology of West African Settlements’. West African Journal of
Archeology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Pp 32 – 51.

Enozie, F. (1992) ‘Early Iron Technology in Igboland’. West African Journal of Archeology,
University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Pp 88.

Gregory, C. E. (1972) ‘A Concise History of Mining’. Pergaman.

Mukhtar, M. (1990) ‘The Decline and Collapse of Indigenous Iron Industries in Northern Nigeria, 1903
– 1989 AD’. Smelting and Smithing, Kano, February, 1990.

Okafor, E. E. (1997) ‘Early Iron Smelting in Africa’. West African Journal of Archeology, University
of Nigeria, Nsukka. Pp 83 – 97.

Terkel, R. ‘Principles of Extractive Metallurgy’. McGraw-Hill Book Company, London. 1983.

Yusuf, J. K. (1996) ‘Bi-annual Historical and Cultural Magazine’. History and Culture Bureau,
Katsina. Pp 26 – 36.

Received for Publication: 10/03/2007

Accepted for Publication: 05/06/2007

Corresponding Author:
A. B. Aliyu,
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria
E-mail -

Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:13 - 20, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.


Adejumo, B.A. and Ola F.A.

Department of Agricultural Engineering, P.M.B 4000, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology,
Ogbomoso Nigeria.

Packaging is a complex subject and its role to the food industry and to the consumers
includes protection, containment, transportation, preservation, and advertisement to
the food industry. Defective packaging has the potential of negating all the food
processor has attempted to accomplish by the most meticulous method of
manufacturing processes. Nigerians have diverse ready-to-eat foods, diet and drinks
varying from one tribe and geographical locations to another, with different packing
materials and methods adopted. The aim of this work is to appraise the various
properties of the local food packaging material used in Nigeria with particular
reference to its suitability to the packaged food. A survey was carried out to ascertain
the various type of local packaging materials used in Nigeria; samples of locally
prepared and packaged foods were purchased from various sales outlets in Ogbomoso
town, southwest Nigeria; the samples were stored at room temperature. Results shows
that the common type of materials used to package food in Nigeria includes discarded
bottles and jars, old stock of paper prints, leaves, maize-sheath, glass-sided boxes,
jute sacks, poly sacks, polyethylene bags among others. The advantages of these
materials includes availability and low cost price; while the disadvantage includes
easy contamination of packaged food ,easy deterioration of packaging materials, easy
spillage of packaged products, poor shelf-life of packaged food among others. It is
observed that the role of packaging is not accomplished in the use of these materials;
also no standard of regulatory body has been effective in ensuring the safety of ready-
to-eat food.

KEY WORDS: Bottles and jars, food, glass-sided boxes, leaves, sack, paper, plastic

Packaging is a complex subject, it has been defined in several ways and its role to the food industry and
imperativeness to the consumer highlighted to include protection, containment, transportation, preservation
and advertisement to the food industry. Karel and Heidelbaugh (1975) in their view indicated the
imperativeness of food package as an essential element requiring adequate attention to forestall the
potential of defective packaging negating all a food processor has attempted to accomplish by the most
meticulous forms of manufacturing processes.

Food packaging is known to employ a very wide variety of materials including the rigid metals (Cans and
drums), flexible metal (aluminum and tin foils), glass (jars and bottles), rigid and semi-rigid plastics
(canisters and squeeze bottles) (BPF, 2006). Others include flexible plastic of a wide variety of types that
include pouches, and meat wrappers, rigid board, paper and wood products. Flexible paper and laminates
or multi-layers may combine paper, plastic and foils to achieve properties unattainable with any single
component (Porter, 1986).Food packaging has indeed been adjudged to assume a complex form in recent
centuries; sophisticated industries have evolved to meet up with the divergent needs of food products. As
technological know–how appreciates, several renown food industries in conjunction with several
technological universities have immensely re-oriented the food packaging phenomena (Oyelade, 2005).

Adejumo, B.A. and Ola F.A: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:13 - 20, 2008

Several earlier workers have highlighted factors that influence the choice of food packaging materials such
as geometric properties (shape and size), chemical property (pH), Physical properties (color, aero and
hydrodynamic properties.) and thermal properties (Porter, 1986), Essentially, the geometric features of food
are known to be important in packaging, in controlling fill – in weight, freezing and canning among others.
The pH level of the food product intended to be packaged known to be either its

Plate 1: Roasted ground nut packaged in bottles

degree of alkalinity or acidity is of considerable importance. This is important because acidic food products
have the tendency to react with certain element of the packaging material, which can lead to a sort of
contamination (Porter, 1986). The colour, aero and hydro – dynamic properties due to their influence on
food products particularly in terms of general acceptability are also relatively significant in packaging
technology. Accordingly, the density and porosity of the food material to be packaged determines greatly
how the packaging material will be. The porosity of the material has tendency to influence the moisture
sorption characteristic of the food products stored, hereby having a cumulative effect on the shelf - life of
the food products.

Factors known to influence the choice of packaging material of food products include permeability
characteristic, mechanical strength, light transmission and temperature change. Thus, the degree of
permeability of the packages to water vapor, gases and volatile odor compounds according to Porter (1986),
is pertinent in packaging consideration. Food with high equilibrium relative humidity such as meat and
cheese will tend to loose moisture to the atmosphere, which can result in a loss of weight and deterioration
in appearance and texture. (Klicka, 1974). Products with low equilibrium relative humidity tend to absorb
moisture particularly in high humidity atmospheres and this can cause significant textural distortion

Foods with high fatty acids require a greaseproof package to prevent grease or oil spoiling the appearance
of the pack and possibly damaging the printing and decoration. Grease proof and vegetable parchment
papers and hydrophilic films provide varying degrees of grease proofness for different application
(Hernandz-Munoz et al 1999) Also; package material should be able to withstand the change in
temperature which is likely to be encountered without any loss in performance or appearance. Therefore
the rate of change of temperature and the type of heat may influence the choice of packaging material
(Guise, 1989).

Shelf-life is explained in relation to the period of time during which the food product will remain safe and
retain desired sensory, chemical, physical and microbiological characteristics and comply with any label
declaration of nutritional data, when stored under the recommended conditions (IFST, 1992). Shelf life of
a product is determined by a great deal of developmental work to arrive at what is termed adequate and
satisfactory. Over the years, the forecasting of shelf – life has become increasingly important with serious
consequences if incorrect. It is recognized that each type of food products needs its own procedure and
methods by which such forecasting is done (Blendford, 1992).

Adejumo, B.A. and Ola F.A: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:13 - 20, 2008

The importance of shelf-life should therefore be tenaciously considered with respect to each of the
significant groups involved in the food chain. The groups include the consumer, growers, other material
suppliers, manufacturers, distributors (wholesalers and caterer) and retailers. For the distributors,
wholesalers, and caterers in particular, the shelf life of a food product is intimately linked to the distribution
systems in addition to the basic facts that different types of products require different types of distribution.
Also in any given distribution systems, changes in the climatic conditions, handling practices and abuse can
have drastic effects on products shelf-life. A total quality in the

Plate2 (a): Agidi (made from maize wrapped in leaves (b) Agidi with fungi growth after 4 days of storage

system will need to extend right through the distribution system and it has potential of becoming the
weakest part of the chain which stretches from manufacture to the consumer. In relation to this, there are
special problems of distribution in the rural areas. The wholesale and catering sectors also have the
potential of representing major vulnerable areas within the food chain. This is because where sufficient
control is lacking, valuable shelf-life can be lost (IFST, 1992).

However in Nigeria there are diverse and numerous types of locally produced ready-to-eat foods sold in
public places for immediate consumption. The packagings of these foods are usually meant for containment
with little or no attention paid to the safety of the consumers and the shelf-life of the food. The hygienic
state of the packaging materials and its appropriateness for the food products are not considered in its
selection. The role of packaging in the food industry which includes protection, containments,
transportation, preservation and advertisement are not achieved in all most all of the packaging method
used in Nigeria. This in turn results in a huge loss of the food product not only during packaging processes
but also during transportation and sales. The only regulatory body in Nigeria, “National Agency for Food
and Drug Administration Control” (NAFDAC) has made tremendous progress in controlling the safety
aspect in some of the food industry in Nigeria, such as in the confectionaries, sachet water industry and
pharmaceutical industry. However, little or no efforts are made on the local food industry which is the most
common in the country. There is a need therefore to analyze the properties of the various types of food
packaging materials used and their suitability to the packaged food


A survey of the various types of locally available food packaging materials was carried out to investigate
and determine (i ) the properties of the various types of food packaging materials, (ii) their advantages and
disadvantages, (iii) the effects of these materials on the food products,(iv) their suitability for the food
products,(v) health and safety standards. The experiment was set up in the process laboratory of the
department of Agricultural Engineering LAUTECH, Ogbomoso. Fresh samples of locally prepared food
items were obtained from the sales outlets in the local markets, in Ogbomoso. The collected food items
were then packaged in different packaging materials and stored at a temperature range of 28.5 to 32.00C
and a relative humidity range of 65.5 to 75.0 %. The ambient condition was determined using a HM 34C
Humidity and temperature meter. Observations were made

Adejumo, B.A. and Ola F.A: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:13 - 20, 2008

of the variations in the physical properties of the food and the packaging material to ascertain their
suitability for the packaged food.


The results of the survey showed that virtually all the food products packaged by the local processors and
vendors in Nigeria are unlabelled. No indication is given of the name of the products, its source or its
composition nor any information on appropriate storage conditions or instruction for use. This is one reason
street foods are displayed open and unwrapped. Sellers and consumers alike take this for granted.

Plate 3(a): Donkunu wrapped in maize sheath (b) Donkunu having fungi growth after 4days of

The packaging materials used by food vendor in Nigeria include both flexible and rigid types. A large
proportion of ready to eat foods are packed in soft or flexible materials including broad leaves, paper and
plastic film wraps. The principal hard or rigid containers used on a large scale are glass and bottles. Glass-
sided boxes, cane baskets and jutes or woven plastic sacks are also used in the bulk packaging of products
such as smoked fish and gari, flour respectively. The various types of food packaging materials, types of
food packaged, their characteristics, advantages and disadvantages are as classified and discussed below:

Packaging in hard containers.

Jars and bottles.
Glass containers used for food includes old jars and bottles that originally held manufactured products such
as beer, soft drinks, cream and pomade. They are obtained from dealers in discarded containers, who
collect them from homes, and in some cases, from refuse dumps. Jars and bottles are used even if they have
minor defects at the top. They do not have any special crown or cover. Products packaged in bottles and
jars includes roasted groundnut, as shown in Plate 1(a), palm wine, ”kunu”(local drink produced from
cereals),Burukutu”(local alcoholic drink produced from cereals),local gin, ”Zobo”(local drink produced
from Roselle plant) among others.

In general, the food packaged in bottles and jars contains natural or added sugar and therefore attract flies.
Unfortunately, the products packaged are not sterilized before or after it is packaged and may remain
uncovered during sales. With the exception of few drinks, which are strong liquor, the products have a very
short shelf life at ambient temperatures and are meant to be sold within a day.

Glass containers are re-used as long as they remain undamaged. They do not react with foods and can be
washed. Products packed in glass have an aesthetic appeal. Products sold in glass containers are not
labeled. Purchase and use therefore depends on previous experience with or knowledge of the foods.

Adejumo, B.A. and Ola F.A: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:13 - 20, 2008

Glass-sided boxes.
A variety of ready to eat foods are displayed for sale in large boxes with transparent glass sides. Over the
last few years these boxes have become popular for the sale of pastries and other fried or baked foods such
as puff-puff, Akara,(beans-cake), groundnuts, pop corn, doughnut, pies, and so on. These items previously
were kept in open trays, large pans and bowls and many vendors still use these containers.

The base and top of the boxes are made of wood, which holds one or more glass in place. The boxes are
available in sizes of about 20x30cm with a height of 10 to 30cm or larger. They may be opened either at the
top or from the sides. These boxes protect the food from flies and dirt. This has improved the way in which
foods are displayed to customers. However, it may be warm and damp inside the boxes and frequent
opening and closing admits flies. Also, the foods may be handled many times by different customers for
inspection before purchase, such practices provides avenues for contamination

Plate 4(a): Iru (locust beans seed) wrapped in leaves. (b) Decomposed Iru with maggot after storing
for 5-days

and microbial growth. However some of these boxes which are stationary are usually lighted with electrical
bulb to provide warmth for the product and to make it visible at night.

Packaging in flexible material.

Leaves commonly used for wrapping food include those of Thespesia populnea (malvaceae family),
Marantodea spp (marantacaeae family) and plantain (Musa sinensis) and the sheaths of maize (corn, Zea
mays). Some items are packaged raw before cooking, e.g. moimoin, ekuru, while others are wrapped in
leaves after cooking while they are still hot e.g. shown in plate 2a. Fungi growth occurs in the
product after four days in storage as shown in figure 2b. Donkunu, which is another maize product are
usually wrapped in maize sheath (plate 3a), the product also shows fungi growth after three days of storage
as shown in plate 3b. Iru, which is a local food seasoning is produced from fermented locust beans seed,
are usually wrapped and sold in leaves are as shown in plate 4a. The product shows the presence of
maggots after three days of storage at ambient atmospheric conditions as shown in plate 4b. Products
wrapped in leaves after cooking generally have a shelf life of two to three days. Cooked rice and beans are
stored in bulk in a large pan and sold wrapped in leaves of T.populnea. They cannot be stored for more than
12 hours in the leaves.

Leaves for packaging are poorly handled and transported. They are often dirty and are kept in the open with
little or no provision for washing before use. They may therefore be a source of microbial contamination of
food. When broad leaves are stored for more than a week they deteriorate through drying out or decay.

Adejumo, B.A. and Ola F.A: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:13 - 20, 2008

Paper is used extensively to package a variety of ready to eat foods; with newsprint the most, commonly
used. Paper wrappers are not pre-formed into any shape, but pieces are torn from a bigger sheet depending
on the type of products. Akara (Beans-cake) are usually displayed in open trays and sold wrapped in
newspaper (plate 5a). The newspaper print usually stains the food wrapped in them. The akara shows fungi
growth after three days of storage as shown in plate 5b.
From the point of view of sanitation, the quality of paper is generally poor. Any old newspaper, multi-wall
Portland cement sacks, magazine and old stationary from schools and offices are used. The Paper is not
stored properly and cannot be cleaned. Such poor hygienic practices coupled with the harmful effect of
printing ink make the use of paper for wrapping food a health hazard. The product packaged in paper
includes Akara, fish (smoked or fried), pastries such as doughnuts, meat pies, cakes, puff-puff etc, bread,
yam (fried or roasted) groundnut etc. The foods that are wrapped in paper are normally displayed in a pan,
tray or transparent glass box and are wrapped in paper when purchased. The paper facilitates handling of
the product but provides very little protection from damage or spoilage. Parcels may be loose and the food
can easily spill out.

Plate 5 (a) Akara wrapped and sold in (b) Decomposing Akara with mould growth after
newspaper 3-days of storage
Plastic bags.
Transparent plastic films formed into bags are becoming increasingly important in the packaging of a
variety of foods. Low density polyethylene (commonly called polyethylene) is the best known. The
adoption of these bags in packaging has significantly improved the display of ready-to-eat foods from
aesthetic and hygienic point of view. Unfortunately, many food vendors are not familiar with the suitability
or otherwise of the various types of plastic films for different products. This can however lead to
deterioration in quality of the food during storage.

Polyethylene bags are manufactured locally and are available in different sizes, ranging from narrow strips
of 3x5cm to larger bags measuring 25x40cm. These films wraps are desirable for packaging food because
they are much less permeable to water vapour and gases than paper and leaves and are chemically inactive
with food. They are used to package both solid and liquid foods. Polyethylene bags are useful for dry
products such as gari, sugar, milk and cocoa powder e.g. bourvita, as the items remain dry for a long time if
properly sealed. Since heat-sealing devices are not readily available, for many vendors, the open ends of the
bags are usually tied into firm knots after the food is inserted.

Bread and other pastries are packed in polyethylene bags on a large scale. Many vendors expose their
products to the sun while sealed in the bags. Moisture condenses inside the bags, and this facilitates mould
growth. Sometimes air is blown into bags with the mouth to open them. This introduces vapour and
microorganisms, which sets the stage for spoilage when foods are placed in the bags.

Adejumo, B.A. and Ola F.A: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:13 - 20, 2008

Home-made ice lollies, which are commonly sold in plastic cups and beverages such as kunu zobo,
normally served in calabashes, are now sometimes packaged in small polyethylene bags for sale. Water is
also sold in plastic bags in response to official directives aimed at curbing the unhygienic practice of using
a single cup to distribute water to many customers. Some vendors package vegetables such as carrot,
cabbage and tomatoes, in polyethylene bags with tied ends this speed the rate of deterioration since the
exchange of moisture and gas with the atmosphere is cut off.

Heavier-weight polyethylene film wraps have limited application for food except for bulk packaging or
covering such items as cooked rice, boiled yam, boiled corn, porridge and others that require heat and
moisture to be retained.

The commonly used sacks in Nigeria are the jute and poly sacks. They are used to packaged crops such as
cocoa, groundnuts, maize, guinea corn, rice, beans, gari among others. They are locally manufactured or
obtained from discarded stock. It makes bulk packaging and transportation of crops easy. However, it gets
easily torn due to continuous handling and re-uses leading to losses of products during storage and

Food packaging materials used in Nigeria are though cheap and readily available, but are however
unhygienic, easily depreciable and leads to losses of the packaged food. The packages of most ready-to-eat
foods primarily serve as containers for the products. They are normally not intended as a means of
extending shelf-life. The development of suitable packaging materials for most traditional staples is
hindered by lack of standards. Variations exist in the composition, shape, weight, and methods of
preparation of products from different sources; and so it is not easy to design simple, inexpensive ready-
made containers for such a wide range of items. There are no regulatory bodies controlling the packaging
and sales of ready-to-eat food, hence putting the health of the consumers at risk. The Nigerian government
should put in place a body to regulate the packaging and safety standards for ready-to-eat foods. This will
help in safe guarding the health of a common Nigeria.

Blenford, D. F. (1992). In Shelf Life of Foods Guideline for its Determination and Prediction. A
Publication of the Institute of Food Science and Technology. U.K.

British Plastics Federation – BPF (1st Dec.2006): Plastic packaging

Guise,B (1989). Microwave Pasteurization. Food Processing.58 (6):37-38

Hernandz-Munoz,P;Catala,R and Gavara,R (1999). Effect of Sorbed Oil Food Aroma Loss Through
Packaging Materials. Journal of Agric.Food Chem..47(10) 4370-4374.

IFST (1992). Shelf – Life of Foods – Guidelines for its Determination and Production. A Publication of
the Institute of Food Science and Technology (U.K).

Klicka, M.V(1974). Space food and their development.In:Encyclopedia of Food Tech.AVI Publishing
Co.Westport Connecticus.

Karel, M. and Heidelbaugh, N. D. (1975). Effects of Packaging and Nutrients in Nutritional Evaluation of
Food Processing. 2nd Edition. AVI Publishing Co. Westport, Connecticus.

Oyelade, O. J. (2005): Moisture Sorption Phenomena and their Effects on Film Packaging of Cassava,
(Manihot esculenta, Crantz), Yam (Discorea rotundata, Poir) and Maize (Zea mays, Linn) Flour.
Unpublished Ph.D Thesis. Department of Agric Engineering, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
Porter, N. N. (1986). Food Science. 4th Edition. AVI Publications. Westport Connecticut. 590 – 597

Adejumo, B.A. and Ola F.A: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3:13 - 20, 2008

Boko, M and Heideveld,A (1997) Introducing Leaf Packaging in the Netherlands, A Survey.A UNB/ UVA
/ UNEP-WG-SPD Collaborative Project, National University Benin (UNB)

Received for Publication: 20/01/2008

Accepted for Publication: 05/03/2008

Corresponding Author:
Adejumo, B.A.
Department of Agricultural Engineering, P.M.B 4000, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology,
Ogbomoso Nigeria.

Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.



Danladi A and Nathan C

Department of Physics, Adamawa State University, Mubi and Department of Agricultural Engineering,
Adamawa State College of Agriculture, Mubi

An incremental shaft encoder has been designed and developed for measuring angular
velocity of a shaft. The construction of the circuit was achieved using disc of a plastic
materials with fifteen slots. Infrared light emitting diode, comparator, photo transistor
(sensor), 555 timer, encoder, decoder, differentiator (control logic) and display.
Bubble resolver was also included in the circuits to eliminate ± 1 counting error
which is inherent in most digital device. The incremental shaft encoder designed and
developed was able to measure maximum speed of 2500rpm and the corresponding
frequency of 625Hz of a 12V dc motor after proper calibration in laboratory and
testing. The circuit designed and developed is a prototype of an industrial incremental
shaft encoder, which replace the imported incremental shaft encoders because of its

KEYWORD: Speed (rpm), Frequency (Hz), digital instrument

Today in the field of electronic instrumentation measurement, digital electronic instruments are preferred
instead of analogue instruments, the use of electronic instruments enhance accuracy of measurement,
minimizes loading effect and reducing electrical noise (Efedua, 2002).

Incremental shaft encoder is used generally to monitor the speed of motors and generators shaft, this work
utilized a practical arrangement of incremental shaft using opto-interupt device(OID); opto-interrupt device
is a device that combines light emitting diode (LED) and photo transistor in close proximity (Efedua,
2002). The OID shown in fig. 1 is a package configuration equally spaced slots around the disc which
allow light from the light emitting diode to reach the photo sensor. The rotating disc attached to the shaft of
a motor is usually non-conducting materials. If there are disc has 15 slots around the disc, the OID output is
15 pulses for each complete rotation of the disc. The set may be used to sense the change in angular
position of a motor shaft or speed of the motor. For regular spaced slots in the disc, the angular interval
between any slots may be 360/n degree (John, 2002). Thus if there are 15 slots for example, the slot are
spaced 240 interval. This is the maximum angular displacement that can be detected. A count of total
number of pulses thus relates the angular displacement of the shaft. If the motor speed is ω revolution per
minutes or ω/60 revolution per second, the frequency of the pulse may be expressed as

f = (1)
Where n is the number of pulses (Thomas, 2001)

Danladi A and Nathan C: Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008




1sb msb


Fig. 1: Block diagram of an incremental shaft encoder

Brief Description of the Instrument
The circuit of incremental shaft encoder uses an opto-interrupt, device (OID) that combines light emitting
diode and photo transistor in close proximity, the disc with 15 slots is attached to the shaft of the dc motor.

Schmitt trigger consist of comparator UA741 is connected to the emitter of the photo transistor and output
of the Schmitt trigger is also connected to the binary counters for digital display as shown in Fig.1

Analysis of results
The results in Table 1, is plotted on the graph to establish the correlation between the frequency (Hz) and
speed (rpm).
Change in frequency(rpm)
Slope =
Change in frequency
2000 − 800
500 − 200

Component Design
The design used an opto-interrupt device that combines light emitting diode and phototransistor in close
proximity. An infrared light emitting diode emits light with a operating current of
Vcc − Vd
Id = (2)
Where Id and Vd are diode current and diode drop respectively (Robert & Louis, 1982). The light from the
Infrared light emitting diode passes through the slots and incident on the photo sensor base that operates the
phototransistor with a reference voltage of
Vref = Vcc (3)
R3 + R4

Danladi A and Nathan C: Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008







0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700
Frequency (Hz)

Fig.2: Relationship between Angular Speed (rpm) and Frequency (Hz)

Danladi A and Nathan C: Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008

Table1: Cost Analysis

The complete list of the components used in the design of the model of the incremental shaft encoder are
enumerated below;
Component Quantity Unit price (N) Total (N)
Transformer 240/220V 1 400 400
Diode IN4001 8 15 120
555 timer 1 60 60
UA741 comparator 1 60 60
Counter (4510) 4 150 600
Decoder (4511) 4 150 600
Display 4 150 600
IC Socket (16 pins) 10 25 250
D flip-flop 1 100 100
Quard NAND Schmitt trigger 1 100 100
IC socket (8 pins) 2 20 40
Connecting wires - 100 100
IC voltage regulator 2 50 100
dc Motor 1 200 200
LED 4 10 40
IR LED 1 120 120
Photo transistor 1 150 150
Zener diode (5V) 1 10 10
Capacitor 220µF, 50V 1 70 70
Total - - 3,700

And input voltage of

Vin = Vcc (4)
R2 + R4

Where Vref and Vin are the reference and input voltage respectively (Paul & Windfield, 2001) as shown in
Fig.2. These voltages make the photo sensor to conducts offers low resistance/low voltage at the non
inverting terminals of the comparator, the comparator then compares the reference voltage and the input
voltage to generate a LOW pulse; when the light does not strikes the photo sensor base, the photo sensor
does not conducts and offers high resistance/high voltage at the non-inverting terminal of the comparator
then a HIGH pulse is generated. The trains of pulse generated at the output of the comparator depends on
the frequency/speed in rpm of the shaft. A 555 timer used in this design is configured as astable multi-
vibrator that generate a gating pulse of constant time duration (∆T) of 4s which serves as the means of
opening and closing of the logic gate (AND gate) for the trains of the pulse coming from the output of the
comparator to be counted by the counter. The period when the gating pulse is HIGH is given by (Green,

T1=ln2(R5+R6)C1 (5)

While the period when the gating pulse is LOW is also given by

T2=ln2R6C1 (6)

Then the total time required for trains of pulse to be counted is given by (Ronald & Neal, 2001).

T=T1+T2 (7)

Danladi A and Nathan C: Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008

Table 2: Result of performance and frequency analysis after test

Test Speed (rpm) Frequency (Hz)

1 250 63

2 500 125

3 750 188

4 1000 250

5 1250 313

6 1500 378

7 1750 478

8 2000 500

9 2250 563

10 2500 625

And frequency of the oscillation is also determined using (Millman, 1998).

f1 = (8)
The frequency required to the reset counting process is given by (Jacob, 1986).
f2 = (9)

Design Procedures
The design takes the following steps
Disc Design
Consider the disc in Fig.3; the slots are drilled at regular interval of 240



Fig.3: Plastic disc

Danladi A and Nathan C: Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008

Let X be the speed in rpm. The number of pulse generated per minute depends on the number of slots in the
disc. Since there are 15 slots in the disc we have 15X pulse per minute, one minutes is equal to 60 seconds;
Therefore 15X pulses per 60s

15 X X
60 4
This means that a clock pulse will come in every 4s

Transmitter circuit (IR LED) Design




Fig.4: Transmitter circuit of IR LED

Assume that Id =20mA and Vd =2V

R1 was obtained from equation (2) as R1=333Ω, for practical purpose the value of R1 was chosen from the
data as 330Ω as the nearest value.

Receiver and comparator circuit Design


R2 R3

IR light
Vref +

Transistor R4

Fig.5 Receiver & comparator circuit

R3 was set to 100Ω and R4 was chosen from data book as 1kΩ, the reference voltage was determined as
11V from Equation (3). For the value of R2 the reference voltage was made approximately closed to the
input voltage as 11.8V (Vin≈Vcc) and R2 was obtained from Equation (4) as 2240Ω but for practical
convenience R2 was chosen from data book as 2.2kΩ as the nearest value.

Danladi A and Nathan C: Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008

Time base (555 timer) Design

From the disc design T1=4s


7 4 8
∆T Gating
6 3
R6 555
1 5


Fig. 6: Time base circuit

From Equation (5); when the gating is HIGH, R5 was determined as 20,028Ω with R6 and C1 chosen from
data book as 1kΩ and 220µf respectively. R5 was also chosen as 20kΩ from data as the next available
value. The period when the gating pulse is LOW was determined using Equation (6) as 0.15s while the
total time when the gating period is HIGH or LOW was determined from Equation (7) as 4.15s, then the
frequency of oscillation was also obtained from Equation (8) as 0.24Hz.

Control logic circuit (Differentiator) Design



Fig.7: Control logic circuit

The frequency of the oscillation is equal to the frequency required to reset the counting process, this was
computed as 0.24Hz, and the value of C3 was obtained as
33.02 x 10-9F, but C3 was chosen from the data as 33µF as the next preferred value

Power Supply Unit

The power supply used in this design incorporate two integrated circuits regulator, which have fixed
voltage regulators producing +5V and +12V. The transformer is a 240V ac input and 24V, 12V output. The
rectifier is a full wave bridge, which makes use of four rectifier diodes of required rating. The output of the
ac voltage is filtered by 50V, 220µF capacitor and fall to the input of the regulator. The 12V regulator

Danladi A and Nathan C: Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008

makes use of the KA7812 regulator via 50V, 10µF smoothing capacitor, the 12V is further passed through
a KA7805 regulator to produce +5V regulated output and 1µF capacitor are used to removed any ripple in
the design from the regulator that could cause error in the ICs used.

Construction Details
The construction of the circuit did not commence until the circuit was tested on breadboards and found to
be working well. The circuit was tested using three breadboards, the counter-decoder units was mounted on
the breadboard, a 555 timer was configured as an oscillator and used to check the working of the counters
and the decoders.

The comparator stage was also connected on the breadboard and tested for proper functioning; a little
adjustment was made on the variable resistor before the circuit could respond to the infrared rays from the
infrared LED, the time base differentiator and bubble resolver stage and AND gate that is the control units
was also connected and checked for proper functioning. After this preliminary test, all were transferred to
the Vero board.

The power supply circuit, the control unit, the time base, the comparator circuit were all housed in one
Vero board. During the construction of this stage LED’s were used to monitor the output of the time base,
the comparator’s output and also of the power stage. The seven segment displays were all mounted on one
Vero board.

The disc used on the motor shaft was cut to shape with a diameter of 80mm, the 15 slots were then marked
out with compass and protractor, the angular spacing of the slots is 240C. The holes in the disc were drilled
with the aid of a 4mm drill bit using the drilling machine in the machine laboratory.

Cost Estimate
The designed developed incremental shaft encoder cost (N3, 700.00) which is three times less than the
market price of the imported price. If accepted in Nigerian industries, it would tremendously solve the
problems of importation.

Performance Testing and Results

The time base unit was calibrated to give precisely a gating duration of 4 seconds. The signal generator in
the laboratory was set to a frequency of 250Hz(square wave) and the gating pulse duration was adjusted
with the help of the adjustable resistor in the time base unit until it gave a reading of 1000rpm. To further
confirm accuracy of the calibration, the frequency was increase to 500Hz and the incremental shaft
encoder gave a reading of 2000rpm. To ascertain the relationship between frequency and speed, test of
speed verse frequency was carried out, the result is shown in Table 1.

Fig.2 described fully the relationship between the angular seed (rpm) and frequency in (Hz) as the speed
increase the frequency also increases.

The circuit designed as earlier stated is a prototype of an industrial incremental shaft encoder, which be
employed in the field of electrical and electronic instrumentation in Nigeria industries. The imported
industrial incremental shaft encoder are very expensive, if this designed is developed and used it will cost
many time less than the ones imported. Incremental shaft encoder is hardly used in Nigeria industries
except in a vital unit of operations where they become indispensable.

The design used throughout the CMDS version of integrated circuits because mixing it up with other family
will definitely requires an interface which would be another design problem to tackle. The TTL, ECL logic
family were avoided because of incompatibility with the CMDs circuitry. From test results, this circuit is
functional, cheap and simple to maintain.

Danladi A and Nathan C: Continental J. Applied Sciences 3: 21 - 29, 2008

Digital instrument like an incremental shaft encoder used digital method and circuitry with numerical
readouts. Some of the transducers commonly encountered in the modern electronic instrumentation gives
output signal suitable for direct processing. The digital methods have been popularized in areas of data
acquisition, processing and display of availability of inexpensive digital integrated circuits, microprocessor
and digital counters.

The aim and objectives of this work has been practically achieved using experimental techniques in
electronic engineering, if this design would be accepted in Nigeria in no distant time, an incremental shaft
encoder will be as common as any other digital instrument. But the performance of the circuit could be
improved by the various techniques such as:
Incorporate programmable speed window to detect and indicate over or under speed of the motor or
generator shaft.

Replace UA741 comparator with a very fast response device such as NE527 at several thousand volts per

Increase the number of slots in the disc to improve the sensitivity of the circuit.

Efedua, J.E. (2002): Principles of instrumentation, Leo Prints Benin City, Nigeria

Green, D.C. (2003): Digital Electronic, Pearson Education; New York, USA.

Jacob, M.(1986): Microelectronics, Digital and analogue circuits and system. McGraw-Hill ; New York,

John, F.W.(2002): Digital design principles and practice John Wiley; London

Millman, H. (1998): Integrated electronics analogue and digital circuits and systems. McGraw-Hill; USA

Moris, M.M.(2001): Digital design, John Willey and Sons; USA.

Paul, H. and Winfield (2001): The Arts of electronics press. Syndicate New York, USA.

Robert, B and Louis, N. (1982). Electronic devices and circuits theory, Prentice Hall Inc; New Delhi

Ronald, J.T and Neal, S.W. (2001). Digital system principles and application, Pearson Education, Pte, Ltd;

Thomas, L. F(2001). Digital fundamental, 482, F.I.E. Patparganj; Singapore

Received for Publication: 27/02/2008

Accepted for Publication: 05/03/2008

Corresponding Author:
Danladi A
Department of Physics, Adamawa State University, Mubi, Adamawa State.

Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 30 - 36, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.




This paper presents the findings of an investigation on the influence of recycled
aggregate concrete (RCA) as a substitute for virgin coarse aggregate in the
compressive strength of `plain concrete. Recycled aggregate concretes were produced
together with virgin coarse aggregates and subjected to empirical tests which include
grading, specific gravity, bulk density, water absorption, aggregate impact value
(AIV) and aggregate crushing value (ACV) to ascertain their performances. Mix
design was carried out for grade 30 concrete according to DoE (1975) and RCA
percentages of 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100 were used in replacing the virgin aggregate
proportion in the mix. The test results showed that the use of recycled concrete
aggregate (RCA) reduces the compressive strength and this reduction increases with
the increase in percentage of the RCA. Maximum decrement of about 33% in strength
or about 67% of compressive strength development occurs when 100% of RCA was
used as substitute to virgin coarse aggregate. It also reveals that about 25% of virgin
coarse aggregate can be replaced with RCA in structural concrete work with out
compromising the characteristic strength of the concrete. This result will not only
eliminate the development of waste stockpiles of concrete as recycled material but
also elicit the use of RCA in concrete work, thus providing environmentally friendly
and economically viable solution as substitute for virgin aggregate as well as provide
savings in the final cost of projects.

KEY WORDS: Cement, Concrete, Virgin aggregates, Recycled concrete aggregates

(RCA), compressive strength.

The need and importance of concrete in construction industry is ever increasing since its discovery.
Lomborg (2007) reported that the use of concrete is more than any other man made material on the planet.
As about 2005, six billion cubic meters of concrete are made each year with countries like China currently
consuming about 40% of world cement production, (Wikipedia, (2007).

Most of the times, facilities constructed using concrete materials need to be repaired or replaced with
passing time either because their end of service life is reached or the original design no longer satisfy the
needs due to the growth in population or traffic or even an error in construction. These activities have
always led to construction, demolition and excavation waste. The waste materials does not only constitute
environmental problem but also put pressure on the available constituent materials used in concrete
production- like the aggregate. The facts have remained how do we satisfy the growing demand for
construction aggregates and, secondly how do we take care of the ever increasing amount of construction
waste. FHWA (2004), report shows that two billion tonnes of aggregate are produced each year in the
United States and production is expected to increase to more than 2.5 billion tonnes per year by the year
2020. This has raised concerns about the availability of natural aggregates and where they will find new
aggregate sources.

O.A.U UCHE: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 31 - 37, 2008

Generally, millions of aggregate tonnes are produced each year in developing countries and is expected to
increase tremendously in the future as more concrete material is used. This has raised concerns about the
availability of natural aggregates and where to find new aggregate sources.

Table 1: Grading Table for Fine Aggregate (sharp Sand)

Sieve Numbers Opening Size of Sieve Cumulative Fraction Passing

(BS) (mm) (%)

3/8’’ 10.00 99.60

3/16’’ 5.00 99.15
5 3.35 96.03
7 2.36 90.07
14 1.18 80.52
25 0.600 68.02
36 0.425 60.94
52 0.300 51.90
72 0.212 45.06
100 0.150 44.12
200 0.075 38.93

On the other hand, the report also confirmed that the construction waste produced from building demolition
alone in US is estimated to be 123 million tonnes per year.

Table 2: Grading Table for Virgin and Recycled Coarse Aggregates

Sieve Opening Size of Cumulative Fraction Cumulative Fraction

Sieve Passing (%) Passing (%)
(mm) (Virgin Aggregates) (RCA)
2” 50 100 100
11/2” 37.5 100 100
1” 20 76.6 73.6
- 14 18.1 15.20
3/8” 10 6.8 3.65
- 6.3 3.05 1.60
4 5 2.8 1.40
5 3.35 0.3 1.25
8 2 0.17 1.20
Pan Pan 0.0 0.0

Historically, the most common method of managing this material has been through disposal in landfills. As
cost, environmental regulations and land use policies for landfills become more restrictive, the need to seek
for alternative uses of the waste material increases. This situation has led State Agencies and the aggregate
industry in the US to begin recycling concrete debris as an alternative aggregate. The report further said
that commercial construction industry has been leading the reuse of this debris, but with the State

O.A.U UCHE: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 31 - 37, 2008

Transportation Agencies (STA) recognizing the engineering, economical and environmental benefits that
can be achieved for using recycled concrete aggregates (RCA), prompting its use for highway work to be
on the increase. Also several studies by Wilburn, and Goonan (1998); Kerkhoff and Siebel (2001); Sagoe-
Crentsil,(2001); Katz, (2002); Olorunsogo and Padayachee(2002) and Salem, et al (2003), show that RCA

Table 3: Aggregates Result of Mechanical Properties.

Property Virgin Aggregates Recycled Concrete
(Crushed Rock) Aggregates (RCA)
Specific Gravity 2.70 2.47
Aggregate Impact
Value(AIV) % 23 23
Aggregate Crushing
Value(ACV) % 20 25
Bulk Density 1641.10 1502.20
Water Absorption 0.38 4.04

is a valuable resource, and by proper engineering, it can be used for pavement aggregate base, and other
miscellaneous concrete work.

They inferred that the material is too valuable to be wasted, and landfill. The report identified that some of
the best aggregates used for highway, bridge, and building construction are already in use in most of the
highways and bridges, and effective recycling is a means to re-use these materials.

Despite the obvious benefits derivable from the use of recycled concrete, as is practiced in developed and
developing countries, Nigerian construction industry is yet to adopt the practice of RCA as aggregate
substitute in structural grade concrete, although in some cases, they use has been established for roadwork
as sub-base or base, backfills and/or flooring. Considering the ever increasing construction work coupled
with the antecedent demolition/failure of structures in major cities of the country resulting in large tonnes
of concrete debris an investigation on the effect of RCA on structural concrete becomes necessary. This
paper reports the findings of an investigation on the suitability of use of recycled concrete aggregates
(RCA) as substitute to virgin aggregates in structural concrete work.

Aggregates constitute about 75% by weight of concrete and it is considered to not only influence the
volume stability, strength and durability of the composite material but also makes it more economical in
value (Neville, 2003).

The use of recycled concrete aggregates (RCA) in new construction work will eliminate the development
of waste stockpiles of concrete as recycled material can be used within the same metropolitan area; this can
lead to a decrease in energy consumption from hauling and producing aggregate, and can help improve air
quality through reduced transportation source emissions.

Also the supply of virgin aggregates in many areas in the country is becoming limited; the use of recycled
concrete aggregates will serve as an environmentally friendly and economically viable solution as
substitution of RCA for virgin aggregate can provide savings in the final cost of projects.
The reuse of concrete demolition will eventually reduce unsightly stockpiles of concrete rubble, animal
infestation of stockpiles, and an overall environmental improvement.

O.A.U UCHE: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 31 - 37, 2008


1. Cement: The cement used for the research is the ordinary Portland cement manufactured by
Ashaka cement company Plc. Care was taken to ensure that it was of recent supply and free from

2. Aggregates: The fine aggregates used are clean sharp sand, graded to be of zone 2 and the virgin
coarse aggregates are crushed granite of maximum size of 20mm, both obtained from supplies for
laboratory work in Civil Engineering department of Bayero University Kano.

3. Recycled Concrete Aggregates(RCA):

The recycled concrete aggregates were obtained from a demolished building structure located
along old Bayero University Road, Kano. The old concrete lumps were broken into smaller pieces
on the site. This was further broken down to pieces manually using sledge hammer and the steel
reinforcements, dowels and tie bars removed after which sieving was carried out using 5mm BS
sieve to remove the unwanted recycled fines. Further sieving using 20mm sieve was done to
ensure the maximum aggregate size of 20mm.

4 Water: The water use for the research is portable water fit for drinking

Table 4: Compressive Strength Test Result on RCA Concrete Specimens

RCA Average Compressive Strength N/mm2

Replacement 3 days Change in 7days Change in 28days Change in
(%) Strength Strength Strength.
% % %
0 25.20 - 30.10 - 40.10 -
25 24.90 -1.19 29.48 -02.06 38.83 -03.17
50 24.59 -2.42 28.74 -04.52 37.50 -06.48
75 22.96 -8.89 25.93 -13.85 34.07 -15.04
100 18.82 -25.30 25.32 -15.88 27.11 -32.29

Both the virgin and recycled aggregates were subjected to mechanical tests in accordance to British
Standards: BS 812 (1975); BS 882 (1992).These are aggregate Impact value (AIV), aggregate crushing
value (ACV), specific gravity, water absorption and bulk density as well as grading test. Mix design was
carried out for concrete grade 30 using the procedure for the design of normal concrete mixes (DoE, 1975).
The virgin coarse aggregates proportion of the mix design is partially replaced with RCA of 0%, 25%,
50%, 75% and 100% by weight respectively. The 0% replacement with RCA served as control test. The
constituent materials were batched by weight, mixed thoroughly, and cast into 150mm x 150mm x 150mm
cube moulds and compacted mechanically to the required density. A total of Forty five (45) concrete cubes
were cast. Three (3) cubes each were tested for compressive strength at 3, 7, and 28 days of curing in clean
water and 24 hours of air drying in the laboratory and at various percentages of replacement of virgin
aggregates with RCA. The compression test was done in accordance to BS 1881(1983), using Avery
Denison universal testing machine with maximum capacity 2000KN. The machine applied load axially on
the cube specimen at a constant rate until a maximum load, which correspond to the ultimate compressive
load is reached at failure point.

O.A.U UCHE: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 31 - 37, 2008







0% RCA
10 25% RCA
50% RCA
75% RCA
100% RCA

3 7 28
Fig.1: Compressive Strength of RCA Plain Concrete


0 25 50 75 100






3 Days
-30 7 Days
28 Days




The physical and mechanical properties tests on the virgin and recycled concrete aggregates (RCA) are as
in tables 1, 2, 3. Table1 revealed that the natural fine aggregates falls within zone 2 of BS 882 grading
limits. This indicates that the sharp sand is of good grade for structural plain concrete. The grading table for
virgin coarse aggregates and recycled concrete aggregates (RCA) in table 2 show that both aggregates
contains similar size proportions with the RCA having more fines than the virgin aggregates. This indicates
possibility of greater water absorption when RCA are implored in concrete making. Table 3 shows that the
virgin coarse aggregate has Specific gravity, Aggregate impact value (AIV), Aggregate crushing
value(ACV) and Bulk density of 2.7, 23%, 20% and 1641.10Kg/m3 respectively while the RCA has its
Specific gravity, AIV, ACV and Bulk density as 2.47, 23%, 25% and 1502.20Kg/m3 respectively. These
values are clearly within the BS 812 limits for aggregates needed for both highway and structural concrete

The result of workability test conducted with various percentages of RCA replacement of virgin aggregate
in concrete specimen show that 0% RCA (control test) has slump of 28mm, while the slump values for

O.A.U UCHE: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 31 - 37, 2008

25%, 50%, 75% and 100% RCA are 22mm, 18mm, 13mm and 11mm respectively. These values show that
as the percentage of RCA replacement of virgin aggregates increases the slump values decreases. This may
not be unconnected with proportion of fines in RCA as seen in table 2. Also the presence of residual
cementatious materials on RCA increases its water absorption potentials, hence the decrease in workability.
This is also confirmed by the water absorption test presented in table 3, which show that the virgin
aggregates has 0.38% as compared to 4.04 % of the RCA concrete.

The results of the compressive strength test presented in table 4, figures 1 and 2 show generally that the
strength increases with age, which is expected. The 3, 7, 28 days average strength with 0 % RCA has the
compressive strength of 25.20 N/mm2, 30.10 N/mm2 and 40.10 N/mm2 respectively. This increase tends to
decrease as the percentages of the RCA in the concrete increases from 0 -100%. For instance, the
compressive strength of specimens with 25 %, 50%, 75% and 100% RCA at 28 days age of curing are
38.83N/mm2, 37.50N/mm2, 34.07N/mm2 and 27.11N/mm2 respectively. The decreases when compared to
the control test (0% RCA) showed a lower compressive strength at all ages of the concrete from 1.19%
reduction at 3day-strength to 32.29% reduction at 28 day- strength as shown in figure 2. The reduction in
strength reached the peak value at 100% RCA replacement of virgin coarse aggregate as the 28-day
compressive strength reduced to about 77% of the normal virgin aggregate concrete. The reduction in
strength also confirmed the earlier view by some researchers that compressive strength of RCA concrete is
about two-third of the virgin aggregate concrete, Frandistous-Yannas (1977). The decrement can be
attributed to weaker interface between the recycled concrete aggregates (RCA) which is surrounded by
residual cementatious matrix of cement and sand before the new concrete mix. Other possible reasons for
reduction in compressive strength include the flakiness and angularity of the RCA which makes
compaction limited and hence reduced bulk density.

It is also noticeable that at 75% or less RCA replacement that the concrete compressive strength is well
above the designed characteristic strength of grade 30 concrete hence it can be implored for structural grade
concrete work.

1. The use of recycled concrete aggregates (RCA) as alternative to natural or virgin aggregate in structural
concrete reduces the strength development of the concrete.

2. A combination of RCA with natural virgin coarse aggregates in cases where high compressive strength
and durability is not a priority with percentage replacement of 50% or less RCA is suitable for structural

3. More water is needed to maintain suitable workability of fresh concrete when RCA is used in concrete

Further research work is recommended in areas of flexural strength, drying shrinkage, creep and age effect
of the RCA in concrete work

British Standard Institution, BS 812: Part 2 (1975): Method of Testing of Aggregates, BSI, London.

British Standard Institution, BS 882 (1992): Method of Testing Aggregates from Natural sources for
concrete, BSI, London.

British Standard Institution, BS 1881: Part 116 (1983): Method of Testing Concrete for Strength, BSI,

Department of Environment, DoE(1975): Design of Normal Concrete Mixes, HMSO, London Pp6-25.

O.A.U UCHE: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 31 - 37, 2008

Frandistou-Yannas, S (1977): Tests on Waste Concrete as aggregates for new concrete. Journal of
American Concrete Institute, 74(8) pp373-376.

Federal Highway Administration, FHWA (2004): State of the Practice National Review “Transportation
Applications of Recycled Concrete Aggregate”, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway

Katz, A. (2002): “Properties of Concrete Made with Recycled Aggregate from Partially Hydrated Old
Concrete”. Cement and Concrete Research 33 (2003) pages 703-711. Elsevier Science Ltd.

Kerkhoff, B., and Siebel, E.(2001) Properties of Concrete with Recycled Aggregates (Part 1),“ Beton,
Publishers, pages 47-50.

Lomborg, B. (2007): Measuring the Real State of the World, the Skeptical Environmentalist, p138.

Neville, A.M (2003): ‘’Properties of Concrete”, 4th edition, London Scientific and Technical limited,

Olorunsogo, F. and Padayachee, N. (2002): “Performance of Recycled Aggregate Concrete Monitored by

Durability Index”. Cement and Concrete Research 32 pages 179-185. Elsevier Science Ltd.

Sagoe-Crentsil, K., Brown, T., and Taylor, A (2001). “Performance of Concrete Made with Commercially
Produced Coarse Recycled Concrete Aggregate”. Cement and Concrete Research 31 (2001) pages 707-712.
Elsevier Science Ltd.

Salem, R., Burdette, E., and Jackson, M. (2003) “Resistance to Freezing and Thawing of Recycled
Aggregate Concrete”. ACI Material Journal, V.100, No.3, May-June.

Wilburn, D. and Goonan, T. (1998): U.S. Geological Survey. Aggregates from Natural and Recycled
Sources, Economic Assessments for Construction Application – A Material Flow Analysis: Circular 1176. (2007): Concrete

Received for Publication: 21/02/08

Accepted for Publication: 18/04/08

Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 37 - 41, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.



Danladi A1 and Jerome G2.

1 2
Department of Physics and Department of Mathematical Sciences, Adamawa State University Mubi.

The objective of this work is to design, construct and implement a 3m diameter
paraboloid reflector with a frequency allocation of 3GHZ and above. The design
was achieved with the help of wire mesh, aluminum span, mild steel, aluminum
foil and glass fiber. The designed model was able to pick up signal from Arabian
Satellite CNN, Adamawa Broadcasting television station and other channels with
the help of low noise amplification block (LNB)

KEYWORDS: Signal, frequency allocation, background noise, frequency

spectrum and efficient transmission.

Antennas are fundamental components of radio systems and use free space as the carrying medium.
They are used to interface the transmitter or receiver to free space, antenna have quite number of
important parameters, and those of most interest include the gain, radiation pattern, polarization,
beamwidth, bandwidth, directivity, voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR), efficiency and impedance
matching (Haykin, 2001 & Website, 2002a).

In some years ago, developments in broadcast technology have caused demand for more frequency
allocation since the present frequency in used is inadequate for efficient transmission. (Green, 2000).
Also there is the need to use frequencies where background noise is less effective that is why use of
frequency of radio spectrum of above 1-2GHZ is being made (Saunders, 1999) At these frequencies,
the use of parabolic reflector type antenna is a must for transmission and reception, therefore only
practical form of antenna for receiving these frequency is the parabolic dish reflector antenna. This now
prompted the emergency of this design.

Brief Description of the parabolic reflectors
The dish is 3m diameter wide of depth 0.6m, the LNB is attached to the feed horn which has provision
for the supply of power through a radio frequency (RF) cable (coxial cable) by the R.F connector.

The basic parabolic antenna generally has a define formula given by
And general equation of a parabola is also given by
k 2 = 4 Fr
Combining Equations (1) and (2), we have

k2 = r

Danladi A and Jerome G: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 37 - 41, 2008

Table 1: Cost Estimate for the manufacture

Items Quantity Price (N)

Wire mesh 2x1m N10,000

Aluminum span 1span N11,000
Mild steel 1m N 4,200
Aluminum foil 2m N340
Fiber glass N2,000
Pipes 2/4” x 1 and ¾”x3 N6000

Total N33,540

Table 2: Design Results

r 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00 6.00 7.00 8.00 9.00 10.00
k 1.99 2.81 3.45 3.98 4.45 4.87 5.27 5.63 5.97 6.29

. Antenna radiation pattern

Measured antenna

Fig1: Parabolic antenna with radiation pattern

Where F is the focal focus of the dish measured in meters; D is the diameter of the dish in meters; d is
the depth of the dish and r,k are chosen variable for the parabolic antenna design. (Bajpai et al,
1981and Erwin, 1989)

If D = 3m, the ratio of F/D is equal to 0.33, from equation (3) d becomes 0.6m. Assume r = 1 to 10 the
corresponding values of k were determined as shown in Table 2.

Danladi A and Jerome G: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 37 - 41, 2008

de s ign value s r vs k


0 5 10

Fig 2: Interpretation of the chosen variable r and k.

Antennas have some important parameters parameters as stated before, this work took into
consideration all parameters.

Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR) Determination

The VSWR used in this design define the radio of voltage standing at maximum wave per voltage
standing at minimum wave given by

1+ / ρ /
VSWR = and
1− / ρ /
ZL − Zo
(4) ρ=
ZL + Zo

Where ρ is the reflection coefficient, Zo and ZL are the characteristics impedance and load impedances
respectively (Pozar, 1997). In this design VSWR = 1, ρ = o for proper matching and maximum power

Efficiency Determination
Efficiency ( β ) is determine by the total radiated power per total input power given by


Where Pr is the total power radiated and Pl is the total input power (Website, 2002b).

β= 67%. In this design, but in real situation 75% is very good although 50% is acceptable in most
antenna design. (Website, 2002a)

Danladi A and Jerome G: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 37 - 41, 2008

Antenna gain/3D pattern Determination

Antenna gain is directly related to frequency and antenna capture area. The number of wavelength in its
signal – capture area determines the gain of an parabolic antenna given by

G = 7.5 + 20 log (f) + 20 log (D) (7)

Where f is the frequency and G is the antenna gain (Frank, 2001) in this design the antenna gain of the
parabolic antenna was determined as G = 30.66dBi because of the wideness of the dish, although in
smaller diameter antenna the gain may be between 2dBi – 3dBi (Website, 2002b)

Directivity Determination
This is similar to gain, but heat losses (i.e. the affectivity) are disregarded. We will then get a pattern as
a dotted line shown in Fig 1; the value of directivity is obtained using


Where c represent total power and a represents average power which can also be written as (Website,

Beamwidth Determination
This is the directiveness of a directional antenna used in this design as the angle between half – power
points either side of the main lobe of radiation. -3dB was obtained as the angle between two half
powers. (Website, 2002a).

Bandwidth Determination
Is the region where there is no losses given by

B= f H i − f Li

Where f H i is the highest frequency attended while f Li is the losses of the amplifier at that frequency
(Edeko,2004). The larger the bandwidth the higher the signal transmitted.

Impedence Matching
An ideal situation antenna has an impedence of 50Ω (Ludwig 1997) all the way from the transceiver to
the antenna. So to get the best possible matching impendence between transceiver, transmission line
and antenna as used is this design, since the ideal condition do not exist in reality, this design used
impedence matching in the antenna interface, often must be compensated by the means of matching
network, i.e. a net build with inductive or capacitive components. The VSWR was optimized by
choosing the proper layout and components values for the matching net and maximum potential of the
antenna shown in Fig 1.

All measurements were done accurately in engineering Laboratory federal polytechnic Mubi, before
the materials were assembled to form a parabolic dish of 3m wide and 0.6m depth. Little adjustment
was made to determine the approximate principle focus where most of the signals concentrate that is
both wanted and unwanted signals before amplification by LNB, for transmission in to the reception.
The parabolic shape was cut – out to specification from
the cardboard paper and then transferred to the metal pipe. Several of these metals pipes were joined
together by welding to the parabolic frame. The Ohmic resistance of joints was given serious attention
by ensuring professional welding

Danladi A and Jerome G: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 37 - 41, 2008

One of the major aims of this paper is to show how a 3m diameter parabolic antenna can be designed
and constructed using locally available materials at a cheaper price compared to the current price in
market today. A typical 3m diameter antenna will cost about N50, 000.00 in the market depending on
the manufactures product name for example DSTV, STRONG and so on. The designed and the
constructed parabolic antenna cost far less than the imported parabolic antenna as shown in Table 1.


The testing of the disc was done when the antenna and accessories including the feed horn, LNB
receiver and television/monitor were placed in order. The LNB was attached to the feed horn which has
provision for the supply of power through a radio frequency cable by RF connector, this passed directly
to a TV set for monitoring the signal. The output of the receiver was monitored, the dish was pointed to
the exact sport of orbital satellite we wished to get the signal, and Arabian satellite was trapped with
clear reception and many others like CNN, ATV and so on.

A 3m parabolic antenna has been designed, constructed and implemented using engineering
experimental technique locally reliable and readily available materials were used in the construction of
the 3m parabolic antenna. The design ensures that the system delivers up to 3GHz and above. This
designed antenna can be used in a very verse communication areas including global system for mobile
communication (GSM)

Bajpai A.C., Calus, I.M., Fairley, J.A, and Walker D. (1981): Mathematics for Engineers and
Scientists, John Wiley and Sons. Great Britain

Edeko, F.A (2004): Analogue communication and Advance electronics. University of Benin Master
note Book, Unpublished.

Erwin, K. (1989): Advance Engineering mathematics. John Wiley and Sons. United State of America.

Frank, J.J. (2001): Fundamental of radio link Engineering, John Wiley and Sons. United State of

Green, D.C. (2000); Radio communication, Longman. New York.

Haykin, S. (2001): Radio communication. John Wiley. Canada.

Ludwig, R.and Bretchko, P. (1997): Radio frequency design; Prentice Hall of India. New Delhi.

Pazor, D.M. (1997): Microwave Engineering; John Wiley and Sons.United State of America.

Saunder, S.R. (1999): Antenna and propagation for wireless communication system; Wiley and Sons.

Website, (2002a):

Website, (2002b): basics

Received for Publication: 27/02/2008

Accepted for Publication: 25/04/2008

Corresponding Author:
Danladi A.
Department of physics, Adamawa State University Mubi.

Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 42 - 49, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.


M. Umar1 and A. B. Aliyu2

Mechanical Engineering Department, Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil and
Mechanical Engineering Department, Bayero University, Kano

A solar absorption icemaker was designed. It is an intermittent system and uses
Calcium Chloride and Ammonia as absorbent and refrigerant respectively. The
single glazed collector/absorber/generator unit uses a plane glass sheet as the
outer cover. Overall collector plate exposed area is 1.0m2. A thermodynamic
simulation of the icemaker has been performed in order to investigate the effect
that the generator temperature and collector efficiency have over the Coefficient
of Performance (COP). The average solar coefficient of performance of the
system is 0.78 It was found that for a constant efficiency at the solar collector,
there is an optimum temperature to be used as the generator temperature.

KEY WORDS: Solar energy, simulation, absorption, ammonia, calcium chloride,


Q p (W ) − Heat gain produced by occupants
Qw (W ) − Latent heat gain brought by moisture gain
Ai (m 2 ) − surface area of a part of building structure overall
U i (W m 2 K ) − heat transfer coefficient
Tcool (hrs ) − time of cooling per day
k j (W mK − ) heat conductivity of the material of j − th layer according to air

m− mass flow rate

h − enthalpy
coefficient of performance
T − temperature
η − efficiency
g − acceleration due to gravity
η − Collector efficiency
COP − Coefficient of performance
The climatic profile, socio-economic development and energy supply infrastructures in Kano
indicate a high demand for cooling applications and strongly suggest the use of solar and renewable
energy powered systems. Cold storage of food products and medicines, especially immunization
vaccines, are important application of solar refrigeration. Many agricultural products like fruits,
vegetables, meat, fish etc., can be maintained in fresh conditions for significantly longer period of
time if they are stored at low temperatures. At present in Kano large quantities of these products are
lost annually due to poor storage facilities. This situation is even worse in the remote rural areas
where these fresh food materials are produced. As a result sharp differences in food supplies

M. Umar and A. B. Aliyu: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 42 - 49, 2008

exist between the harvest and off harvest periods. High market value agricultural products are
usually abundant and cheap during the harvest season and expensive at other times. Solar
refrigeration can assist to reverse this trend.

Solar powered refrigeration has been very attractive during the last twenty years, since the availability
of sunshine and the needs for refrigeration both reach maximum level in the same season. One of the
most effective forms of solar refrigeration is the production of ice, as ice can accumulate much latent
heat, thus the size of the icemaker can be made small (Sumathy,1999).

Absorption refrigeration relies on the absorption of a refrigerant gas into an absorbent at low pressure
and subsequent desorption by heating. Solar absorption icemaker consists of a solar collector, a
condenser and an evaporator that is placed in a refrigeration box.

The solar absorption cycle is similar to the mechanical vapour compression cycle in that it employs
volatile refrigerant, which alternately under low pressure in the evaporator vapourizes by absorbing
latent heat from the material being cooled and condenses under high pressure in the condenser by
surrendering the latent heat to the condensing medium.


Many absorbent/refrigerant combinations have been designed in the past, either experimentally or
commercially. These include CaCl2/NH3, SrCl2/NH3, LiNO3/NH3, NaSCN/NH3, LiBr/H2O, glycol
ether/R21, with the most popular being H2O/NH3. The absorbents, particularly in the first four above,
are able to generate large quantities of refrigerant, such as HN3, at low temperatures of the order of
1000C, making it possible for low temperature heat sources, such as waste heat and solar thermal
radiation, to be used.

In reference (Iloeje, 1995) a comparison was made between CaCl2/NH3, SrCl2/NH3 and LiNo3/NH3,
H2O/NH3, NaSCN/NH3 systems. Operating conditions were assumed to be 400C ambient temperature,
0.55-0.45 solar collector efficiency, 5 h generation, 12 h absorption, and a total radiant flux of 1040
W/m2. The tests shows the superiority of the solid absorbents over the liquid absorbents, with CaCl2
being slightly better (and cheaper) than SrCl2.


Solar radiation 931w/m2
Ambient temperature (outside) 32oC
Ambient (Room) temperature 28oC
Condensing temperature 37oC
Evaporating temperature -10oC
Collector/generator temperature 100oC
Final ice temperature -5oC
Generation period 6hrs
Absorption period 12hrs
Evaporator water mass 4kg
Refrigerant/absorbent pair Ammonia/calcium chloride

From reference data for Kano, the average daily solar radiation for the 12 months calendar year is
26.83 MJ/m2 (Musbahu,2008) Assuming that our design 6hr day solar radiation which is about 75% of
the daily value is uniformly distributed through out the 6 hours period; hence 931W/m2 was estimated.

Ammonia can evaporate at temperature below 0oC. In fact evaporating temperature of -12oC had been
achieved for liquid absorbent systems (Farber, 1970). Consequently, an evaporating temperature of -
10oC and evaporator water temperature of -5oC was considered reasonable for sizing the system. A
passive evaporative condenser constructed for the system. A passive evaporative condenser constructed
for the system (Neilson,1977) gave a temperature of

M. Umar and A. B. Aliyu: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 42 - 49, 2008

6oC below ambient, under humid condition. Assuming a condenser temperature of 5oC above ambient,
a condensing temperature of 37oC was estimated, assuming an ambient temperature of 32oC.

Simulated absorption/generation test in (Iloeje, 1995) showed that 5h generation and 11h absorption
were enough to produce 80% of maximum possible generation and absorption. 6hrs and 12h were
therefore chosen for the generation and absorption periods for the system respectively.

The reaction of calcium chloride and ammonia are as given below:
CaCl2 + 2NH3 CaCl2 . 2NH3 ± Q1 (at T1)
CaCl2 . 2NH3 + 2NH3 CaCl2 . 4NH3 ± Q2 (at T2)
CaCl2 . 4NH3 + 4NH3 CaCl2 . 8NH3 ± Q3 (at T3)
The equilibrium reaction temperature – pressure curves (T – P curves) are given in figure (2) for
equations i and ii and iii. At condensing temperature of 37oC, P3 = 13.5 bar, T3 = 90o C and T2 = 100oC
at an evaporating temperature of –10oC, P3 = 3 bar, T3 = 53o C and T2 = 63oC.

Reaction (i) occurs at temperatures beyond those possible in flat plate collectors. Thus, 8 moles of NH3
may be absorbed per mole of CaCl2, during initial charging, but only 6 moles will be available for
refrigeration. We shall assume no heat and pressure losses in components and lines. In order to analyse
the system, mass and energy balance is performed at each components

Fig. 1.0 Schematic Diagram of Calcium chloride – ammonia Refrigeration Cycle


Component Calculation Energy (Watt)

Gain Losses
Evaporator Total cooling load as calculated 24.70 _
Condenser .
  _ 25.57
. Q c = m ref  h1 − h2 
 
Generator .
  0.871 _
Q g = mref  h1 − h4 
 
Balance 25.57 25.57

M. Umar and A. B. Aliyu: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 42 - 49, 2008

The schematic diagram of the absorption refrigerator assembly is as shown in Fig. 1.0. It consists of a
combined collector/absorber/generator of collector plate actual area 1.25m2 and effective exposed
collector area of 1m2. The collector plate was of galvanized corrugated sheets with 76mm corrugation
pitch, and painted with black oil paint. There were two collector tubes, each of 59mm od x 54mm i.d. x
1000mm long galvanized steel pipe. The collector tubes were painted with black oil paint. The annular
space between the inner and outer tubes was charged with 1.0 kg of absorber granules per tube, which
occupied about 80% to 85% of the annular volume.

The collector plate and tubes assembly was mounted on the rear plate insulation inside a galvanized
steel box. Its glazing was a clear plane glass. The insulation consists of 50.8mm thick expanded
polystyrene chips. The collector/absorber/generator component was inclined at the latitude of 12.05°
(which is that of Kano),was supported at its base and raised 1m above the ground level on an angle iron
support frame.

In a low pressure system, such as the one designed, the condenser and the evaporator must necessarily
be closed to each other and the collector. Thus, they are located directly under the
collector/generator/absorber unit such that the refrigerant flows into them is by gravity. The condenser
steel piping is 7.18m length of 21mm od x 18mm id coiled. It is of galvanized steel tube.

The separate evaporator consisted of a spirally coiled 21mm od x 18mm id tube galvanized steel tube
of total length 1.13m.The liquid receiver and the evaporator vessel placed inside separate box of inside
dimensions 300mm wide x 300mm breadth x 300mm high x 50.8mm thick. The gap was filled with
expanded polystyrene insulation. The box or the ice cabinet was made up of galvanized metal sheets as
the out side wall, while aluminum sheets were used as the inner walls in order to reduce transmission
and absorption of heat. The design was carried out in Kano, Nigeria using the locally available
materials. Solar and other relevant data used during the design were also of Kano.

Simulation Analysis
Mathematical model
Figure 1.0 illustrates the main components of the solid absorption icemaker. In order to analyse the
system, mass and energy balances were performed at each component. For the current study, it is
assumed that the refrigerant vapour is 100% ammonia.
At the expansion,
. . .
m2 = m3 = mref
(Total mass balance)
h2 = h3 (Energy balance)

At the evaporator,
. . .
m 3 = m4 = mref

Qe = mref (h4 − h3 )

. Qe
m ref =
h4 − h3

At the condenser,
. .
m1 = m 2 (Total mass balance)

M. Umar and A. B. Aliyu: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 42 - 49, 2008

 
. Q c = m ref  h1 − h2 
 
At the generator
. .
m 4 = m1 (Mass balance)
. . .
Q g = m1 h1 − m 4 − h4
 
Q g = mref  h1 − h4 
 
The COP of the absorption system is given by
COP = e

Computational model
In order to analyze how the system react to different operating conditions, its necessary to simulate the
variables that effect its performance, with the intention of obtaining the maximum COP out of the
system. The operating conditions choose were:

Tg = 70 – 140°C
Tc = 37°C
Ta = 32°C
Te = -10°C

Refrigerant mass flow mref = 0.000022746kg/s

From Antonio, (2006) the liquid and vapour enthalpies of the refrigerant NH3 can be calculated from
equations 1 and 2 respectively.
hl (T ) = ∑ bi (T − 27.15)

i =0 1
hv (T ) = ∑ ci (T − 27.15)

i =0 2

The coefficients for equations 1 & 2 are presented in the table 2.0 below

Table 2.0 coefficients for equations 1 – 2 (Antonio, 2006)

I bi ci
0 1.99E+02 1.46E+03
1 4.46E+00 1.28E+00
2 6.28E-03 -0.011501
3 1.46E-04 -0.00021523
4 -1.5262E-06 1.91E-06
5 -1.8069E-08 2.56E-08
6 1.91E-10 -2.5964E-10

M. Umar and A. B. Aliyu: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 42 - 49, 2008


The operating boundaries of the system were examined by conducting simulations for various values of
generator temperature, Tg , the operating ranges were 70°C < Tg < 140°C. The results were showed in
Fig. 2.0 represents the COP Vs generator temperature for 100% efficiencies at the collector for a fixed
evaporator temperature and condenser temperature. It shows that the COP increases as the generator
temperature increases and the COP approaches uniformity as the generator temperature continue to
increase. This may be explained by the fact that all the absorbed ammonia was separated from the
calcium chloride and thus no more refrigerant flow to the condenser.









70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 110.00 120.00 130.00 140.00
Generator Temperature(deg)

Fig. 2.0 COP variation as a function of generator temperature for 100% efficiency at the





0.788 COP 2




70.0 80.0 90.0 100.0 110.0 120.0 130.0 140.0
Generator Temperares(deg)

Fig. 3.0 COP variation as a function of the generator temperature for 75% collector efficiency

M. Umar and A. B. Aliyu: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 42 - 49, 2008






COP 0.789 COP 3





70.0 80.0 90.0 100.0 110.0 120.0 130.0 140.0
Generator Temperatures(deg)

Fig. 4.0 COP variation as a function of the generator temperature for 50% collector efficiency








70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 110.00 120.00 130.00 140.00
Generator Temperatures(deg)

Fig. 5.0 COP variations as a function of the generator temperature for different values of collector

The system COP for 75% efficiency at the solar collector for fixed evaporator temperature and
condenser temperature is depicted in fig. 3.0. The system COP decreases as the generator temperature
increases. It reaches minimum and then increases progressively as the generator temperature continues
to increase. This may be explained by the fact that the generator temperatures corresponding the
decreased COPs are below desorption temperature for the solid absorption refrigeration cycle, as such
it is at the absorption phase of ammonia gas by the absorbent.

Fig. 4.0 shows that the COP decreases as the generator temperature increases for a greater portion of
the chart and then later starts to increase. This may be explained by the same manner above. The
increase in COP means that more heat was absorbed in the evaporator. In other words, full amount of
refrigerant is absorbed during absorption.

The generator temperature effects over the system COP for different efficiencies at the solar collector is
shown in fig. 5.0. The chart can be described as follows;
For a given generator temperature; the system COP increases as the efficiency augment.

M. Umar and A. B. Aliyu: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 42 - 49, 2008


Ammonia – calcium chloride solar absorption icemaker was designed and constructed. The
refrigeration cycle was analyzed with their thermodynamic properties expressed in polynomial
equations. The coefficient of performance (COP) of the cycle versus the generator temperature at
different collector efficiencies was analysed and it was noticed that the collector efficiency is an
important factor to consider for the optimum temperature at which the solar absorption cycle operates.
The collector efficiency determines the maximum temperature that should be used at the generator in
order to achieve the maximum COP out of the system. The COP obtained were in the range of 0.78 –
0.83 which are in agreement with what was obtained by Nelson et al (1977) which gave a COP of 0.75.
Also an experimentally based simulation model of a solar powered water chiller reported in Best et al
(1992) gave the cycle COP as 0.75. Other activities on solid absorption refrigerators reported in
Worsoe (1983), give the cycle COPs in the range of 0.4 – 0.8. These previous results validate what is
obtained in this simulation analysis. The simulation was carried out on specific temperatures at the
generator, condenser and the generator.

A lot of research and development are needed to prove the economic viability of solar absorption ice
making technology using locally available materials, in order to compete favourably with vapour
compression refrigeration systems.

Antonio J.B (2006).” Thermodynamic simulation of a solar absorption refrigeration system, Generator- Heat
exchanger”Universidad del Norte. Barranquilla, Colombia.

Best R, (1992). “Evaluation of Solar Air conditioning System Operating in Mexicalli. Second world
Renewable Energy Congress Reading.Baja, California.

Farber E.A, (1970). Design and performance of a compact refrigeration system. Engineering progress
at the University of Florida, 24 (2): 17.

Iloeje O.C (1995) “Treatments of Calcium Chloride for use as a Solid Absorber in Solar Powered
Refrigeration”, Technical Report No. SE-I, Oct 1982, Solar Energy Project, Univ. of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Musbahu U. (2008): Design, Construction and Performance Analysis of Solar Absorption Icemaker.
M. Eng. Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering., Bayero University, Kano.

Nielson P. (1977). “Development of Solar-Powered Solid-Absorption Refrigeration System,-Part 1:

Experimental Investigation of the Generation and Absorption Process”. Report No. F30-77, The
Technical Unvi. of Denmark, Refrigeration Laboratory,

Sumathy, K and Zhongfu. (1999) A Solar- Powered Ice-maker with the solid adsorption of activated carbon
and methanol. International Journal of Energy Research, 517-527.

Worsoe-Schmidt, (1983). “Solar Refrigeration for Developing Countries using Solid Absorption Cycle,
International Journal Ambient Energy 4(3): 115 - 124

Received for Publication: 20/04/2008

Accepted for Publication: 15/05/2008

Corresponding Author:
A. B. Aliyu
Mechanical Engineering Department, Bayero University, Kano

Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 50 - 55, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.



Nathan .C.
C/O Iliya Kaigama: Department Of Chemistry, Adamawa State University, Mubi, P.M.B 25, Mubi
Adamawa State Nigeria

Five different types of clay samples were mixed with various percentages of
Silica sand to produced glazed ceramic floor tiles. Manual compression force was
used to compress the mixture to produce ceramic tiles. The tiles were dried and
heated using an electric furnace at a temperature of 1250OC. the tiles produced
were experimentally tested for their porosity, hardness and impact. The results of
the properties of the ceramic tiles produced were found to fulfill or present
reasonable values with the imported floor tiles in market. The aim of the present
work is to produce ceramic glazed floor tiles and investigate the effects of locally
available clay samples and additives on the quality and its properties.

KEYWORDS: Ceramic, glaze, porosity, hardness, impact, furnace.

Tiles are thin slabs used for flooring, paving or making drains. They may be made of clays burnt in
kilns (ceramic tiles) and concrete (concrete tiles)

The manufacture of ceramic tiles involves careful preparation of clay and compression moulding or
extrusion process to be followed by drying and firing operation and/or finally glazing operation.

A mixture of clay and water has unique plastic properties which can be shape and fired inn the kiln at
the sintering temperature, the alkali flux gives rise to a molted glass which partly dissolves the other
oxides constituents and binds the together on cooling. Therefore, the tiles are glazed by applying to the
surface an appropriate powder mix which forms a glass on firing. Ceramic materials are relatively
cheap and easily located across the country.

Characteristic of floor Tiles.

The most noticeable of ceramic floor tiles is that they are hard and brittle at room temperature.
Mechanical properties are influenced by their structure. Variation in mechanical behavoiur result from
the various combination of covalent, ionic and Vanderwaals bonds that exist within the structure.
Ceramic floor tiles are usually non – conducting to Electricity. The electrical resistivity decrease with
the introduction of impurities in their structure. The have high melting points than commonly used
metals and their thermal conductivity fall between those of metals and polymers. Thermal shock
resistance is a function of thermal conductivity and expansion co – efficient. Ceramics with a lower
thermal expansion coefficient and higher conductivity usually exhibit better thermal resistance.


Five different types of locally available clays namely: Digil clay (A), Vimtim clay (B) Lokuwa clay (C)
Lamurde clay (D), Works clay (E), were used singly as base clays with others as additive and silica as
flux (Table 1). The clay lumps as sourced were crushed to smaller sizes, dried and finally grounded
into five clay particles. The physical properties of the five clay samples plus the silica sand were
determined as given in table 2. The binder used was sodium silicate (waiter glass). This is used to
obtain a stable, quick – casting slip in order to have as specific gravity together with a pourable
condition. It also gives a firms cast. Fields per was also added to improve the strength of the tiles. The
quantity was 5% per volume of the plastic body. This work was carried out in the department of agric
engineering, college of Agriculture Adamawa state.

Nathan .C: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 50 - 55, 2008

Clay paste

Stage 1


Stage 2


Stage 3

Wet tile

Stage 4

Nathan .C: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 50 - 55, 2008

Table 1: Composition and Location of clay’s Sample investigated weight.

Base clays Location Varying % main composition % additives composition

Clay (A) Digil area of Mubi North Silica + Clay A(60%) 20% Clay B 20% Flux
Adamawa State. (feldspar)

Clay (B) Vimtim area of Mubi Silica + Clay B(65%) 22.5% clay C, 12.5%
Adamawa State. Flux (feldspar)
Clay (C) Lokuwa area of Mubi Silica + Clay C(60%) 22.5% clay A, 10 clay D,
North Adamawa State. 15% Flux (feldspar)
Clay (D) Lamurde area of Mubi Silica + Clay D(65%) 10% clay D, 10% clay a,
North Adamawa State. 15 Flux (feldspar)
Clay (E) Works area of Mubi Silica + Clay E(60%) 20% clay D, 20% Flux
North Adamawa State. (feldspar)

The composition mixes were based on the clays on the clays compositions mixes for the manufacturing
of hard porcelain products.

Table 2: Physical properties of clay

S/N Physical Clay A Clay B Clay C Clay D Clay E Silica
1 Colour Reddish Creamy White White Creamy Creamy
brown grey white
2 Specific 2.31 2.03 2.00 2.01 2.62 .2.73
3 Clay content
4 % Moisture 2.56 1.28 1.29 19.7 18.5 5.67
content As
5 Grain 86.5 69.87 83.82 9.73 64.92 65.4
fineness ratio

The collected clays were ground to small pellets and then soaked in a drum of water for four days, on
the fifth day the wet clays was sieved. A 500цm mesh was used. The purpose of the sieving was to
remove sand and other organic materials, such as plant roots and dead matter. After sieving the wet
clay was poured in a container and allowed to settle to the bottom of the container. The settlement took
two days to achieve. After the two days, the remaining water drained off and the wet clay brought out
to an open space to allow for more straining of water at standard temperature of about 23%. This
process is known as aeration of the wet clay. The aim of the aeration is to bring the clay to a workable
state and enable the composition to loose about 60% moisture to the atmosphere. It also makes the
composition more plastic. After the aeration feldspar and water glass 5% each were added to the
composed clay body. The water mixed clay mixture was kneaded until the mixed clays become plastic
and workable. The clay mixture were rolled into ball shape and tempered to store away in a warm dark
place for between 5 to 7 days. The tempered clay’s samples were moulded by pressing it in a 20cm x
20cm x 0.5 cm to produce a tile of square dimension. The casting was done in four stages.

Stage 1: The plastic body was well kneaded and poured into the mould box, this material fill the box
which was placed on a flat board of dimension of 20cm x 20cm 0.5cm.

Stage 2: A piston was used to ram the body well into the box. The piston is also made of wood with
square based.

Nathan .C: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 50 - 55, 2008

Table 3: Volume of water absorbed by the tiles

Tile Initial volume of water (V1)cm3 Final volume of water
A 1000 995
B 1000 995
C 1000 995
D 1000 995
E 1000 995
Imported 1000 995

V1 – V2 = V
Where V2 = Final volume
V1 = Initial volume
V = volume of water absorbed by the tiles

Table 4: Comparison of properties between Local and imported floor tiles.

Tiles Porosity (cm)3 Hardness (mob) Impact (Joules)
A 5.0 20.0 138.0
B 2.0 19.0 139.0
C 5.0 20.0 140.0
D 10.0 15.0 110.0
E 5.0 20.0 131.0
Imported tiles 5.0 20.0 140.0

Stage 3: Further ramming of the body was obtained, the expected thickness of the tile is 0.5cm and the
0.10cm extra is to allow for any shrinkage during the drying and firing process.
Stage 4: The box was opened from the sides and the casting left on the board. It was allowed to dry
under normal atmosphere conditions for 14 days. This was done to avoid cracking during fist firing.
Porosity Test
A knowledge of the porosity of the tiles is important for it serves as a measure of maturity and also
allows the evaluation of the clay body for a specific purpose. The entire specimen (imported tiles and
locally produced tiles) were immersed in different containers containing equal volume of water, which
was measured to be 1000cm3. The tiles were left for a period of 5 days after which they were brought
out simultaneously. The volume of water left was measured and tabulated in Table 3.

Hardness Test
The hardness test was done using a scratch test approach. In the test two control test materials were
used. A block of limestone and a block of igneous rock. In the an attempt was made to scratch the
surface of both the imported and locally produced tiles with first block of limestone and secondly with
a block of igneous rock.

In the first test, the limestone was able to scratch both tiles, in the second test the igneous rock was
unable to scratch, all tiles, the hardness of all tiles lies between the number of igneous rock and the
number of limestone.

Impact Test
The machine used for the test is the sharply impact testing machine. The test was done first for the
local floor tiles and then for the imported floor tile. In conducting the test a notch was made on each
test specimen. The specimen was supported so that it was loaded horizontally as a simple beam
between two anvils with the notch at mid – span.

The striking edge of the pendulum weight strikes the specimen opposites the notch, the energy
expended in rupturing the specimen was found by the formula;

Nathan .C: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 50 - 55, 2008

Wh – Wh (2)

Where W = impact load of swinging the weight from a vertical height, h = strike and rapture of the
notched specimen and then the load stops at a vertical height (h)


Table 1 shows the composition mixes and location of clay’s sample investigated by weight.

The reason for mixing the % additives in table 1 is, at a composition mixes less than the one’s in table
1 for the various base clays A to E, before drying crakes were all over the tiles and at a composition
mixes greater than the one’s in the table, the tiles also cracks. Different and several trials were
conducted but non could produce a tile after drying.

The percentages used were able to give stable and hard tiles that the properties were compared
reasonable with the imported tiles in market.

Table 2 shows the physical properties such as specific gravity, clay content, etc.

For clay samples and silica sand used for the production of ceramic floor tiles. Composition of
properties between local and imported floor tiles were give in table3.

For tiles produced from clay sample A, B, C and E their porosity is the same. The water absorbed by
the tiles 5cm3 each, which is the same with the imported floor tiles. Tiles D gave relatively high water
absorption 20cm3. This higher amount of water may be as a result of the composition mixes.

The hardness test of the locally produced tiles is the same, or compare reasonable with the imported
floor tiles which is 20mob. Tiles produced from sample D gave Low hardness of 15mob.

The impact test conducted for both the locally produced floor tiles and the imported floor tiles is the
same 140 Joules, except for slight decreased in sample A, B and E. Tiles produced from sample D gave
low impact test which is 110 Joules. Linear expansion and shrinkage test could not be done because the
glaze will not allow for accounts result. And since the tiles will be used at temperature above 100OC
these test were ignored.

It is obvious that the locally produced floor tiles have almost the same strength and quality with the
imported tiles. The slight difference in quality might be as a result of the type of binder used for the
local production of the tiles, which might be different from are used for the imported tile.

It can also be seen that only D composition mixes could not be used to compare reasonable with the
imported clay tiles.

This research work was carried out to shows that we can actually produced or own local floor tiles
using the abundant clay we have in Mubi north local government area of Adamawa state, thereby
reducing our importation of foreign of tile; this was confirmed by the result obtained from the test
conducted. It can be seen clearly that only tiles D composition mixes cannot be used to compare
reasonable with the imported clay tiles.

The cost of executing the project is relatively cheap, although, it could have been cheaper if a local kiln
was used and more tiles produced.

Gilliot, E.J. (2001): “Clay in engineering Geology” 1st Edition Eslevier

Grimehaw, R.W(2003): “The Chemistry and Physics of clays” Ernest Ben Publishers, London.

Peter, S.M. (1998): “Understanding clay, Recognition and processing” Volunteers in Technical
assistance, (VITA), USA.

Nathan .C: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 50 - 55, 2008

Prienion, A.R. (200): “Glass ceramics, white wares porcelain enamel”, A.S.T. M 15:02

Prienion, A.R. (1988): “Construction A.S.T.M 4:05.

Ryan, W. (1998): “Properties of Ceramics Raw materials” Devices Publishe House Ltd New Hilvik.

Samuel, J.O (1995): “Manufacturing of ceramic tiles using firing techniques” M.Eng Research Project
Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Ilorin, Ilorin – Nigeria.

Singh, S.(1979): Engineering materials”. Vikas Publishing House Ltd, New Delhi.

Stafford, C.E (1980): “Modern industrial ceramics” 1st Edition Bobs – Merrill Co Publishers, New

Website (2007):, pp1 – 8.

Received for Publication: 25/03/2008

Accepted for Publication: 15/05/2008

Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 56 - 63, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.



J. A. Enokela1 and E.J. Ibanga 2

Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Agriculture, P.M.B 1273, Makurdi, Nigeria
Department of Physics, Nasarawa State University, P. M. B. 1022, Keffi, Nigeria.

Highway-railway level crossings across the country have witnessed a number of
fatal accidents in the past. Many of the level crossings in the rural areas are not
protected by level crossing gate signals. In the urban areas where these provisions
are put in place, the operation of the level crossing gate is usually entrusted to the
level crossing keeper- who opens and closes the gate against road traffic at times
that he deems necessary. This results in the closing and opening of the gate earlier
or later than necessary as well as the intervention of a human superintendent who
may not be on duty at the correct time. These factors cause difficulties and
possible accidents for the highway/railway users. This work describes a control
system that uses a microcontroller to handle traffic flow across a major and
typical highway-railway level crossing located in an urban centre. It is seen that
the incorporation of computer methods into the operation of the level crossing
improves its safety, speed and reliability.

KEYWORDS: Highway, Railway, level crossing, control, traffic,


Highway-Railway level crossing traffic signal controls in the country have traditionally been operated
by level crossing keepers who use flags and signal lamps mounted on gates to warn highway users of
the approach of a train. These keepers, on sighting a train, physically close the railway gate against
road traffic until the train has passed after which the gate is opened (Nigerian Railway Corporation:
General Rules, 1979) . This traditional method is very much dependent on the human factor and has
important shortcomings:
(i) There is no preemption in the system to alert the highway users of the approach of a
train before the railway gate is closed against the road traffic.
(ii) The gate is generally closed against road traffic for a longer period than absolutely
necessary to secure the safety of the public and train.
(iii) The entire operation depends on the level crossing keeper who may not show up for
his duty on time as has been known to happen especially in poor weather conditions.

These shortcomings have led to lots of inconvenience for both the railway and highway users as well as
the occurrence of accidents on such level crossings.

Traffic controls at level crossings are generally required to have some form of preemption. This is the
transfer from normal operations of signals to a special control mode. Rail traffic preemption often
occurs when a train approaches highway-rail grade crossings (Metrolinks Ttrain, 2004 and Institute of
Transport Engineers, 2004).

Preemption defines various times and these include:

(a) Advanced Preemption time which is the notification of an approaching train that is
forwarded to the highway traffic signal controller unit for a period of time prior to
activating the railway active warning devices.
(b) Pedestrian Clearance time is the time provided for a pedestrian crossing on a crosswalk
after leaving the curb or shoulder, to travel to the centre of the farthest traveled lane or to
a median. At a normal walking speed of at least 1.2m/s the walk interval should be at
least 7 seconds.

J. A. Enokela and E.J. Ibanga: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 56 - 63, 2008

Figure 1: Traffic control System (Enokela and Ogah, 2005).

(c) Queue Clearance time is the time required for the design vehicle stopped within the
minimum track clearance distance to start up and move through the minimum track
clearance distance.
(d) Minimum Warning time is the least amount of time active warning devices shall operate
prior to the arrival of a train at a highway-rail grade crossing.

The knowledge of these times are necessary to enable us calculate the length of time required for the
gate to be closed against the road traffic (Institute of Transport Engineers, 2004). The effective time
that the crossing would be blocked by a train can be estimated from equation (1)
r = 35 + L( 1.47s )LL(1)
L = train length and
s = train speed.

The factor of 35 assumes approximately 25 seconds before the train enters the crossing plus 10 seconds
after it clears the crossing that the crossing would still be blocked by gates. These times may be
adjusted us necessary for individual crossings (Institute of Transport Engineers, 2004). Various
methods have been used to design traffic controllers at highway-railway level crossings (K.L.E.
Society’s Polytechnic, Hubli, 2003; James David Chapman’s web site, 2004; and Goja, and Orhungur
2004). This work uses a microcontroller for the design of the traffic controller. The advantages of this
method include low power consumption since less hardware is required, and a high reliability that is
comparable to that achievable using a full-scale microprocessor.


The traffic controller has been designed using the Microchip’s PIC18F2585 microcontroller. This
microcontroller has up to 48K bytes of flash program memory space, 4K bytes of RAM as well as 1K
bytes of EEPROM. It also features a CPU having a standard set of 75 instructions (Microchip
Technology Inc. 2004). The design was done in 2005 at the Electronics Laboratory, University of
Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria.

System Operation
The traffic controller system that has been developed is indicated in figure 1 (Enokela and Ogah, 2005).
The system consists of two sensors placed 1000m apart, one on each side of the road. The sensor
employed is a simple dc type which operates such that a train on the section of the affected track will
trigger the switch thus generating an interrupt for the control unit circuitry. The control unit then enters
the preemption mode. Visual and audible warning signals are sent out to alert the highway users of the

J. A. Enokela and E.J. Ibanga: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 56 - 63, 2008

approach of a train. The visual signals consist of red, yellow, and green lights mounted on the gate
while the audible signal is a loud siren. Once the approach of a train has been detected, the control unit


Define Processor

Load device specific


Configure Processor

Initialize program
counter Wait for interrupt

interrupt? Yes


No train: Turn on Interrupt Routine

Green light

Fig. 2: Flow Chart for Traffic Controller

J. A. Enokela and E.J. Ibanga: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 56 - 63, 2008

triggers a siren and the yellow light is activated for 20 seconds so that all road users will have adequate
time to cross the rail. This period represents the warning time. Warning times should not exceed 40-50


Turn off green light

Turn on siren

Turn on yellow light

Delay 20 seconds

Close gate

Turn off yellow light

Turn on red light

Delay 90 seconds

No Second sensor tripped?

Further 90 seconds delay

Turn off siren

Turn off yellow light

Turn off red light

Open gate

Turn on green light


Fig. 3: Interrupt Service Routine

J. A. Enokela and E.J. Ibanga: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 56 - 63, 2008


G3 OS1
R1 S1
T1 K Q
° ° CLR

+Vcc °

+Vcc °+Vcc
J G4 OS2
R4 Q

R2 S2
° ° CLR

° +Vcc
C2 R8

Fig. 4: Sensor and Interrupt Control Circuit

seconds so that undesirable driver behaviour such as attempting to drive around gates can be avoided
(Federal Highway Association, 2004).

At the expiration of the warning time the gates are closed against road traffic and the warning light
turns red. The audible signal is still turned on. The gate remains closed against road traffic for a period

J. A. Enokela and E.J. Ibanga: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 56 - 63, 2008


10k 28
MCLR 27 Motor signal-open gate
25 Motor signal-close gate
2 24
Red Light RA0 RB3 INT2
3 23
Yellow Light RA1 RB2 INT1
4 22
Green Light RA2 PIC18F2585 RB1
5 21
6 18
7 17
10 16 Audio signal
9 15
8, 19

Fig. 5: Traffic Controller Circuit Showing Various Control signals

determined approximately by equation (1). When the train triggers the second sensor the gate light
turns yellow for 20 seconds after which the gate opens and the gate light turns green. The audible
signal turns off thus completing the cycle.

Program Developments
The global flow chart for the traffic controller is indicated in figure 2. The program has been developed
using the assemble language. The processor used is defined in accordance with the assembler
(Microchip Technology Inc. 2005a). The processor’s specific files are loaded and the processor is
appropriately configured. The program then goes into an infinite loop while checking for interrupts. In
the absence of a train the green light at the gate is turned on and the gate is opened to road traffic. The
arrival of a train is acknowledged by the generation of an interrupt signal from the sensor.

Various events occur in the interrupt routine (figure 3). These consist of turning on the siren and the
yellow traffic light to warn the highway users of the approach of a train. This is followed by a 30-
second warning time to enable all road traffic to clear off the railway. The gate is then closed against
road traffic and the red light is turned on. The control system goes into a delay mode to allow the train
to pass. When the train trips the second sensor there is a further delay to allow the last train coach to
pass through the gate which opens thereafter. The siren is then turned off while the green light is turned
on to indicate the “all clear” for the road users. It should be observed that once the first sensor from
either direction has been tripped and the gate closed, the gate will remain closed indefinitely until the
second sensor from either direction is tripped. This situation allows for a train to stop between the
sensors after tripping the first sensor from either direction.

J. A. Enokela and E.J. Ibanga: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 56 - 63, 2008

Hardware Design
The sensor and interrupt control circuit is given in figure 4. The flip-flops FF1 and FF2 are configured
as T-type (Hill and Peterson 1981) and are cleared (Q = 0) at power on. This condition is assured by the
power-on reset circuits G1 and G2. When the train wheels march the sensor switch S1 the flip-flop FF1
is clocked and the one-shot circuit (OS1) fires a pulse which constitutes the interrupt INT1 for the
processor. INT2 is generated in a similar manner. If INT1 occurs first while INT2 occurs later then
INT1 controls the turning on of siren, yellow light, closing of gate and turning on of red light while
INT2 turns off the siren, the yellow light, the red light, opens the gate and turns on the green light.
However if INT2 occurs first the roles are reversed. This behaviour of the system is accomplished in
software. The question of whether INT1 or INT2 occurs first depends on the direction of approach of
the train.

The microcontroller connection showing various control signals at the I/O pins is shown in figure 5.
The interrupt signals (INT1, INT2) are inputs to the microcontroller while the other signals are output
from the microcontroller and are used for various control functions.


The program for the traffic controller was written with the aid of Microchip’s MPLAB IDE version
7.50 (Microchip Technology Inc. 2005b). After assembling the program, software simulation was
carried out and the program was comprehensively debugged using the MPLAB IDE’s simulator. The
components were then wired together in software environment using the NI Multisim Circuit Design
suite version 10.0.1 (National Instruments, 2007). Normal operation of the circuit without interrupts
was observed. The circuit was interrupted by operating the switches S1 and S2 and the sequence of
lighting of the LEDs connected to the port pins was observed to be correct. LEDs were used in place of
the motor drive signals. The circuit was then built on a circuit board with the components properly
soldered together. The hexadecimal (hex) file generated from the assembly process was transferred into
the program memory of the microcontroller with the aid of the MPLAB In-Circuit Debugger MPLAB
ICD2 (Microchip Technology Inc. 2005c) and a hardware simulation was carried out to observe the
performance of the physical circuit. Once more light emitting diodes were used in place of the motors.
The lights turned on and off as desired.


A highway–railway level crossing traffic controller that operates without the intervention of a human
gate keeper has been designed and implemented. The design has utilized a microcontroller for cost
effectiveness. The traffic controller can be interfaced with a high-powered motor required to operate
the gate and an audio system that would put out a loud warning signal.

Enokela, O.K, and Ogah, D.A. (2005) “Design and construction of a microprocessor based railway
traffic controller”, B.Eng. Thesis, University of Agriculture, Makurdi, unpublished.

Federal Highway Association, (2004), “Guidance on traffic control devices at highway-rail grade
crossings”, Executive summary,
Goja, A.J. and Orhungur, M. (2004) “Design and construction of a traffic control system at a
railway crossing”, B.Eng Thesis, University of Agriculture, Makurdi, , unpublished.
Hill, F.J., and Peterson, G.R (1981) Introduction to switching theory and logical design, John
Wiley and Sons, New York, 3/e, 1981.
Institute of Transport Engineers, (2004), Preemption of traffic signals near railroad crossings,
James David Chapman’s web site, (2004) “Traffic light project”,
K.L.E. Society’s Polytechnic, Hubli, (2003), Microprocessor based railway control system,
Metrolinks train, (2004), Preemption guidelines for highway–rail grade crossing,

J. A. Enokela and E.J. Ibanga: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 56 - 63, 2008

Microchip Technology Inc. (2004) Data Sheet PIC18F2585/2680/4585/4680, 2355 West Chandler
blvd., Chandler, Arizona.
Microchip Technology Inc (2005a) MPASM Assembler, MPLINK Object Linker, MPLIB Object
Librarian User’s Guide, , 2355 West Chandler blvd., Chandler, Arizona.
Microchip Technology Inc. (2005b), MPLAB IDE User’s Guide, , 2355 West Chandler blvd.,
Chandler, Arizona.
Microchip Technology Inc (2005c), MPLAB ICD 2 In-Circuit Debugger User’s Guide, 2355 West
Chandler blvd., Chandler, Arizona.
National Instruments (2007), Multisim user guide, 11500 North Mopac Expressway, Austin,
Nigerian Railway Corporation: General Rules, 1964, (as amended in 1979), Re-printed by the
Railway Press, Ebute-Metta, Lagos.

Received for Publication: 07/05/2008

Accepted for Publication: 25/05/2008

Corresponding Author:
E.J. Ibanga
Department of Physics, Nasarawa State University, P. M. B. 1022, Keffi, Nigeria.

Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 64 - 71, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.



Aji I.S, El-Jummah A.M, Aji M.A and Ifeanyi N.D.

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maiduguri

The admixture of used engine oil blended with kerosene as a substitute for
industrial fuel was experimented to determine it’s viability for use as an industrial
fuel in foundry workshop. Various types of industrial fuel exist, some of which
include diesel containing 84.4% of carbon, 11.7% of hydrogen, 1.4% of nitrogen
and 0.60% of sulphur, a boiling point of about 5500F (287.780C), of 250oF
(121.110C) and it fractionated pouring temperature of 5150F(268.330C).
Equipment used for the experiment include crucible furnace, fuel tank , inlet pipe,
wire gauze, flexible hose, the injector nozzles, the electric motor blower, the
delivery hose, the control knob, the mixture chamber, the combustion chamber,
and the crucible pots (the excavators). Four liters of the mixture of used engine
oil to kerosene at a varying ratio of 2:1, 3:2, 5:3,5:2, 3:1, 4:1, 5:1 and 6:1 was
used to carry out the test. Most appropriate result of the experiment was obtained
at a combination ratio of 6:1 with four liters of the mixture melting 10kg of zinc
in 22 minutes.

KEY WORDS: Melting, mixture, fuel, furnace, combustion

This work was carried out with the desire to reduce the cost of fuel used in our furnaces and burners by
making use of used engine oil mixed in a certain proportion with kerosene; the used engine oil taking
the higher proportion of the mixture. This will serve as an alternative to diesel, coal, and other
hydrocarbons which will be used for firing industrial equipments like boilers and in a foundry

Industrial fuel is normally sourced from crude oil. Most scientists believed that oil and natural gas were
formed millions of years ago, but the only living then were tiny sea plants and sea creatures called
plankton. The seas were full of plankton, the water was like thick soup, and the suns energy helped the
plankton to grow. Everything around us is made of chemicals; these chemicals are of two types, carbon
and oxygen. When the plankton died oxygen left their bodies. This is only why carbon and hydrogen
are in the remains of the tiny plankton that later turned into oil and natural gas.

This natural gas (crude oil) is extracted from the ore in the soil, which is being refined into industrial
fuels such as gasoline, diesel oil, kerosene and black oil. (Sauvain,1987).

Aim and objectives

This work is aimed at producing a cost effective industrial fuel as an alternative to the present fuel
which is majorly expensive, for use in industrial boilers and foundry workshop. This will help reduce
the cost of generating heat in small and medium scale industries and also help reduce environmental
pollution by recycling used engine oil instead of throwing it away.

Scope of the work

This work will be limited to using engine oil that has been used by an automobile vehicle after its
original lubrication value has been used up and then mixed with kerosene.

Industrial fuels are fuels used for the consumption in industrial machines. They include diesel fuel,
black oil, kerosene and gasoline fuel etc. (Nelson, 1958)

Various types of industrial fuel exist, some of which include diesel containing 84.4% of carbon, 11.7%
of hydrogen, 1.4% of nitrogen and 0.60% of sulphur, a boiling point of about 5500F (287.780C), of
250oF (121.110C) and it fractionated pouring temperature of 5150F (268.330C). (Lowson, 1970)

Aji I.S et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 64 - 71, 2008

It is used in heavy vehicle such as trucks and buses, and is becoming increasingly popular in cars and
vans as light diesel engine technology develops. They are used in factories and building, for stationary
equipment such as generator, furnace and small boilers. (Timasher,Sakharo et al 1989)

Black oil is another type of industrial fuel obtained from waste products collected after the major
refining has taken place. Black oil has a boiling point of about 7800F (415.560C), flash point of 4000F
(204.440C), dark brown in color and not as finely processed as light oil. They are widely used and
sought after for ship propulsion, steam generator and power plants. (Lowson, 1970)

Kerosene is one of the refined products gotten from crude oil. It has the following chemical analysis
85.6% carbon, 12.4% of hydrogen and 0.37% of sulphur. Kerosene has a boiling point of about 3350f
(168.330C), its vapor pressure is 2110F (99.440C) while the flash point of 1100F (43.330C) and its
fractionated pouring temperature of 3050F (151.670C). It is the lightest, most volatile of the distillate
fuel grades. It also has the following properties; Appearance-Clear and Bright; Colour (Saybolt), (min)
+ 20; Specific gravity at 15oC is 0.800 – 0.825 kg/m3

Petroleum (gasoline) is the major product in an industry of many by products. The chemical analysis of
petroleum is 85.5% of carbon, 14.2% of hydrogen and some has 36% of oxygen. It has boiling points
of about 800F (26.670C), its vapor pressure of about 20psi, and has fractionated pouring temperature of
60 0F (15.560C)

The flash point of a fuel is the lowest temperature at which vapor giving off will ignite when an
external flame is applied under standard condition. The oil is said to be “flashed” appears and
instantaneously, propagates itself over the center surface. The oil flashes because a flammable mixture
results when it is heated sufficiently causing vapor to emerge and mix with oxygen in the air. (Nelson,

The flash point is defined to minimize fire risk during storage and handling the minimum flash point,
for the machinery space of a merchant ship is govern by the International Legislation and the value is
600C for fuels use for emergency purposes external to the machinery space, the flash must be greater
than 430C. The normal maximum storage temperature of a fuel is 100C below the flash point, unless
arrangements are otherwise made. (Nelson, 1958)

Some of the other properties required of a good fuel are Density which is the absolute relationship
between mass and volume at a stated temperature. The S.I unit is kg/m3 at a reference temperature
150C. (Clair, 1979); Viscosity which is a property of the internal resistance of a fluid that opposes the
motion of adjacent layers. The unit of measure of the resistance in S.I unit is Pascal; Pour point which
is the lowest temperature at which a fuel can be handled without excessive amount of wax crystal
forming out of solution. If a fuel is below the pour points, wax will begin to separate out and this will
block filter; it’s carbon residue which is the tendency to form carbon deposited under high temperature
conditions in an inert atmosphere. For straight run fuels, the typical value of carbon residue is between
10-12%mm, while for fuel derived from secondary conversion processing the value depends upon the
severity of the process applied. On a global basis, this is typically 15-16%mm but in some areas can be
as high as 20%MN/M. (Clair,1979); Sulphur content which is a natural occurring element in the crude
oil and concentrate in the residual component of the crude oil distillation process. Hence, the amount of
sulphur in the fuel oil depends mainly on the source of the crude oil due to a lesser extension on the
refining process. Typically for residual fuel on a world-wide basis, the value is in the order of 2-4%

By extraction can be defined as the insoluble residues remaining after extraction by toluene. These
insoluble residues are contaminants such as sands, dirt and resist scales that are not derived from the
fuel. Such definition and test method are suitable for clear distillate fuels but are not applicable to
residual fuels which are of greater importance to the total sediment contents of the fuel including
hydrocarbon material which relates to stability. Stability or residual fuel may be defined as the ability
of fuel to remain in unchanged condition despites circumstances which may tend to cause change or
more simply as the resistance of oil to breakdown. Conversely, instability would be the tendency of a
residual fuel to produce a deposit of aspbaltenic sludge as a function of time or temperature.

Aji I.S et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 64 - 71, 2008

In 1980s, three sediments test method were developed, where each relates to various aspects of the
sediments. They are the total sediment extent (TSE), total sediment accelerate (TSA) and total sediment
potential (TSP) methods. Each of the method is of filtration through a double filter paper and each
differs in the treatment of the fuel sample prior to filtration. In the case of the TSE procedure, there is
specific sample preparation and the sediment result relates to the dirt in the sample.

For TSA procedure, the sample is mixed with 10% ce-tane –C16H34 (a colorless oily hydrocarbon) and
is being heated for 1 hour at 1000C before filtration. In the case of TSP test the sample is heated for
24hours at 1000C to stimulate thermal ageing of the fuel. In the event of lack of stability of a fuel it is
likely that, filter blockage and combustion problems will be experienced. If there is any difficulty in
identifying the nature of these materials, a small portion should be placed in an open container and be
allowed to float in a vessel containing water at a temperature of 60 to 700C. Many materials will
therefore melts but an asphaltenic sludge will not (fig 1)

Fail, reject
Sediment Screen
TSP Fail, reject
Pass OK4
(Timasher, Sakharo; et-al 1989)
Fail, reject
Stability Screen

Fig1: Sediments test method of fuel samples by filtration

Every fuel is manufactured to be stable within tendency itself, with this, it does not have the tendency
of producing asphaltenic sludge and it does not necessarily follow that two stable fuels are compatible
when blended or mixed together while incompatible is the tendency of a residual fuel to produce a
deposit on dilution or on blending with other fuel oils.

Problems of incompatibility within fuels are more but when they happen, there results are severe.
Typical problems are sludging and blockage of bunker and service tank pipe runs, filters and centrifuge
bowls. In extreme circumstances, the only remedy is the manual removal of the sludge build up. It is
impossible to give precise advice on probability of compatibility problems between two fuels but the
risk of incompatibility can be ranked. A blend is regarded as being stable if it is homogenous
immediately after preparation. The remains in normal storage, at no time produce or tend to produce
sludge on a significant scale. Under these circumstances, the fuels that form the blend are being
considered as compatible with each other.

By definition, residual fuels are the remains of the crude oil after the more valuable component have
been extracted from the manufacture of petroleum product. The chemical composition of residual fuels
is difficult to define as it depends upon the source of the crude oil and the manufacturing process used
in the extraction of the petroleum products.

Aji I.S et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 64 - 71, 2008

However, when considering the chief consistent of residual fuel an appreciation that can be made on
the sludge forming mechanism. These constituents of a residual fuel include asphalt, resins and liquid
hydrocarbon. The generic terms ‘asphaltanes ‘covers a wide range of heavier hydrocarbon structures.
Besides, having high molecular weight and high hydrocarbon ratios, they may also contain small
amount of other elements, depending on the source of the crude oil.

Asphaltanes are delivered to exist in residual fuel as ‘micelles’. The resins can be considered as low
molecular weight asphaltanes and these resins produce time solutions (i.e. molecular dispersion).

The resin molecules in an oil medium of residual fuel are known as ‘maltanes’ while the liquid
hydrocarbons are in oily weight than the resins, which acts as a solvent for the other constituents. Thus
a residual fuel oil is generally considered to contain a disperse phase of asphaltanes complex with high
molecular weight component of the maltenes (resins) and liquid hydrocarbon in the form of a micelle .
The continuous of intermiceller phase consist of ion molecular weight constituent of the maltenes.

In this ways one can visualize a general decrease in carbon/hydrogen ratio and molecular weight from
the center of the micelle through to the continuous phase. This is shown diagrammatically in the figure;
although, the hypothetical zones are shown separately. Although, they merge with each other so there is
no distinct interphase between the micelle and intermiceller phase.

In conditions shown, equivalent exists and the ‘micelles’ are considered to be ‘peptized ‘(i.e. colloidal
dispersed). If, however, the carbon/hydrogen ratio of the Maltese is lowered, say by the introduction of
a paraffin diluents, the resin which are absorbed in the asphaltanes are to a certain extent, absorb. This
result in the asphalt particles got is being completely surrounded by resins and they are mutually
attracted. This leads to a precipitation which appears as sludge.

Fuel A Fuel B
High risk low density density
Moderate risk high risk high density
Lowest risk low density high density

The profit margins of fuel delivery are often very small and it is tempting to improve this by water
addition that is often difficult to dictate in a visual examination. Reputable suppliers will deliver fuel
with water content far below ISO-8217 maximum limits.

In practice, the nature of the actual water present may be fresh, blackish or salty depending on the level
of sodium as determined by the elementary analysis. On a worldwide basis the salt content of sea water
varies but usually in first other terms 100mg/kg of sodium is associated with 1% of sea water. Grass
water contamination will be removed by the centrifuge. (Sauvain, 1987)

Specific Energy
The specific energy of a fuel expressed in mg/kg depends on the composition. For residual fuel, the
main constituent are carbon and hydrogen both of which releases energy on combustion. Sulphur also
releases energy on combustion but to a lesser extent than carbon and hydrogen. The fuel density is
mainly proportional to the ratio of carbon and hydrogen atoms in the fuels

Ignition Quality
The ignition quality of a fuel is a measure of the relative ease by which it will ignite. For distillate fuels
this is measured by ce-tane number. Ce-tane number is determined by testing is a special engine with a
variable compression ratio. The higher the number the more easily the fuel will ignite in the engine.
For residual fuel, there are two accepted empirical equation both based on the density and viscosity of
the fuel. They are calculated carbon aromaticity index (CCAI) and calculated ignition index (CII)
The CCAI gives members in the range of 800 – 870, while the CII gives values in that same order as a
ce-tane index for distillate fuels of the two equations CCAI values are more frequently quoted.

The figure is monogram, which incorporates both CII and CCAI. If the viscosity is fixed and the
density is raised the CII value falls and the CCAI value increases. Similarly, the density is fixed and the
viscosity is lowered, the CII value falls and the CCAI value is increased, in general values less than 30.
For CII and greater than 870, for CCAI are considered problematic if required, further guidance on
acceptable on acceptable quality value should be obtained from the engine manufactured. (Clair, 1979)

Aji I.S et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 64 - 71, 2008

Ash - The ash value is related to the inorganic materials in the fuel oil. The actual value depends
upon three factors, firstly the inorganic materials naturally present in the crude oil, secondly the
refinery process employed. (Sauvain, 1987)

Factors affecting fuel-oil combustion

Combustion of fuel
This is the amount of heat liberated when a unit quantity of a fuel is burned. It is termed heating value
or heat of combustion. This is simply the burning of fuel oil through the mixture of oil and air in the
combustion chamber with the right atomizing power to produce the necessary firing.

Factors Affecting Fuel and Combustion

There are various properties of fuel oil that has effect on it’s combustion. Its presence are endlessly in
the fuel oil. They are contained as fuel oil element.

This is a naturally-occurring element in crude oil. The level of sulphur has a marginal effect on specific
energy on combustion process. In diesel engine, its presence in the fuel can potentially give rise to
corrosive wear which can minimize the rate of combustion. (Lowson, 1970)

Water and Sediment

The presence of high level of water contamination in the oil is known to be actually risen to the flash
point. Water contaminations can also give a false low flash, particularly in certain mini-flash systems
that use change in pressure to detect flash. The boiling off of the water can give a false positive on fuel
for instance this can also snuff out the flame in cases when a gas pilot is used.

These are deposits, which exist on insoluble residues. They are contaminant such as sands, dirt and rust
scale which give rise to incomplete combustion of fuel in the combustion chamber of the furnace

Vanadium and Sodium - Vanadium is a metal that is present in all crude oil in an oil-insoluble form.
Vanadium and sodium in combination are high levels which can results in high temperature corrosion
damage to value and turbo changer components.

Aluminum and Silicon - These are generally accepted that an indication of Aluminum represents the
potential presence of catalyst fines. These fines are particles of spent catalyst arising from the catalytic
cracking process in the refinery. These fines are in the form of complex Alumino-silicates. If not
reduced by the suitable fuel treatment, the abrasive nature of the fines does damage the engine oil
particularly the fuel pumps, injectors, pistons, rings and liners.

This experiment was carried out in Ramat Polytechnic and University of Maiduguri at the end of the
year 2007. The equipments employed to carry out the work include crucible furnace, fuel tank , inlet
pipe, wire gauze, flexible hose, the injector nozzles, the electric motor blower, the delivery hose, the
control knob, the mixture chamber, the combustion chamber, the crucible furnace and the crucible pots
(the excavators). The experiment was tested first with diesel and then with the used engine oil so as to
compare their efficiency and economic viability.

Four liters of industrial fuel (diesel) was poured into the tank and the valve was tightly locked (air and
fuel). Ten kilograms of zinc scraps was placed inside the crucible pot and placed inside the furnace.
The furnace was lit by pouring some quantity of paper into the furnace and ignited.

As the paper was burning the control valve of the fuel and the air control valve was opened; the blower
control switch was switched on for the combustion to take place. The starting time for the firing was
noted, the control points of the valve was also noted and marked for further control levels. The fuel was
allowed to burn off and the final reading of the time was taken. The valves were locked and the electric
blower was switched off. The melted scrap inside the crucible pot was emptied into a container. The
same procedure was adopted using used engine oil and kerosene. Various ratio of the used engine oil to
kerosene was tested.

Aji I.S et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 64 - 71, 2008

The mixture should be thoroughly mixed to avoid dense fuel burning first (used engine oil) while the
kerosene settles and burn last. The mixture is also filtered very well to avoid particles of stones, sand,
metal chips, wood e.t.c passing into the system which will block the injector nozzles


The experiment conducted was used to determine the correct proportion of mixture of used engine oil
with kerosene that will help achieve optimum result in foundry application. The results were obtained
relative to the rate of burning and the intensity of the firing.

The ratios used for the experiment and the times taken to melt 10kg of zinc were as shown in table 1

Table 1 Determination of appropriate combination of mixture

Proportion Time (minutes) Qty (liter)

6:1 22 4
5:1 21 4
4:1 19 4
3:1 17 4
5:2 16 4
5:3 17 4
3:2 17 4
2:1 16 4

Diesel Fuel

Used Engine oil


Quantity of fuel used 4 liters

Fig. 2: Testing of different types of fuel samples

The result showed that with higher percentage of kerosene in the mixture, the intensity of burning is
very high. This may not be good for casting that requires gradual melting. As the quantity of the used
engine oil increases while the kerosene decreases, the intensity of burning gradually decrease while the
time of melting increase (Fig 2). At a ratio of 6:1 of used engine oil and kerosene, gradual and effective

Aji I.S et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 64 - 71, 2008

melting occurs even though the time required to melt the material; in this case zinc, increases. Figure 3
shows this gradual but effective melting of sample in relation to proportion of mixtures.

Even though used engine oil has a high flash point, its rate of burning is low. This can be attributed the
presence of impurities inside.


Used engine oil



20 Diesel oil

Time (Minute)

1/6 1/5 ¼ 1/3 5/2 5/3 3/2 2/1

Proportion of mixture (liters)

Fig. 4.2 Proportion of mixture in relation to time of melting


From the experiment carried out, it has being observed that kerosene and used engine oil can be used
in foundry workshop for firing crucible furnace effectively. For economy in large scale operation, the
admixture of used engine oil blended with kerosene at a ratio of 6:1 can be an alternative to these
industrial fuels when the used engine oil has been properly treated. That is, removal of un-wanted
sediments that may be harmful to castings e.g. sulphur. This kind of foundry workshop can be utilized
for the purpose of teaching/training student in our various institution of learning and can help to save
cost of running foundry workshop.

Aji I.S et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 64 - 71, 2008

Lowson M. H., Our Industrial Petroleum. (1970), Published by British Petroleum Company limited,
London 4th Edition.

Nelson W. L., Petroleum Refinery Engineering 3,434. (4th ed, 1958) London.

Clair Richardson Norma St., Mineral Resources and Engineering Geology. (1979), Australia.

Sauvain Phillip, Oil and Natural Gas. (1987), Published by Basingstoke, Macmillan; Title series on
Exploring Enegry.

Timasha A.N., Sakharor V.A,and Sereda N.G. Manual for Oil and Gas Industry. (1989). Published by
BLM Manuals and Hand Book, New Delhi.

Received for Publication: 14/05/2008

Accepted for Publication: 16/06/2008

Corresponding Author:
Aji I.S
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maiduguri

Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 72 - 79, 2008
©Wilolud Online Journals, 2008.


Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah1; Amoo, L. Abdullahi2 and Yusuf, Ahmad 3

Computer Engineering Department, University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri, 2Electrical and Electronic
Engineering Programme, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, 3Department of Electrical and
Electronics Engineering, Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi

The relationship between the mobile phone service providers and their service
consumers since the about seven years ago when mobile phone became fully
integrated into Nigeria society is to say the least rough. Accusations of poor
services coupled with high charges are levied against the service providers and in
defense the service providers blame it on high running cost especially fuelling
and maintenance of generating sets for power supplies. Hence, for mobile phone
service providers to provide satisfactory service to their customers, there is need
for efficient power management system. This work finds the average power
supply per day, cost of the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) generating set, cost of
installing the generating set, fuel consumption of the generating set per certain
periods based on BTS equipment data provided by one of the service providers,
routine maintenance cost of the generating sets, etc and compare these with
Photovoltaic (PV) system. The findings reveal that an environmental friendly
renewable energy technology, a photovoltaic system is a potent alternative power
source especially when life cycle cost (LCC) analysis is invoked and the site
management scheme proposed is adopted. PV system has been found to be cost
competitive with the conventional system.

KEYWORDS: Photovoltaic (PV) array, Balance of system, Life cycle cost

(LCC), Cost benefit analysis, PV hang-on, & Site management scheme,

Statistics have shown that the wireless mobile telephony is growing tremendously just over one and a
half decade of its existence. For instance, in Nigeria there are about 40 million active subscribers to
wireless telephony operators by the close of 2007 and Nigerian teledensity stood at 29.98 (NCC, 2008).
Nigeria with a population of one hundred and forty million three, thousand five hundred and forty two
(140,003,542) in 2006 and at a growth rate of 3.2 percent was about 143,363,627 by the end of 2007.
Using the teledensity of about 30 percent, forty three million, nine thousand and eighty eight
(43,009,088) people are having access to telephone line as at the stipulated time if we assume one line
per person. Thus, it can be projected that with about ten (10) wireless telephony operators in the first
quarter of year 2008 and if the rate of penetration remains steady, by the next decade, over 50
individual wireless telephony operators may have emerged. With the BTS radial coverage of about 4.5
kilometers for urban cells and 10 kilometer or higher for rural cells, each wireless telephony operator
may have 1000 base transceiver stations (BTS) for adequate and effective coverage, which will
aggregate to 50,000 BTS for Nigerian network alone. Moreover, by the present state-of-art owing
Nigeria perpetual energy problem, each BTS in most urban areas has at least a dedicated generator
while in the rural areas where there is no grid they two dedicated generators approach is usually
employed per BTS. Then the fuel consumptions and environmental impact will on the long run become
very alarming and prohibitive. Therefore, the call for alternative scheme is inevitable for sustainability
of the industry with the view of offering mobile service at reduced cost for the providers and invariably
to their customers.

History of Wireless Telephony

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is a European digital communications standard
which provides full duplex data traffic to any device fitted with GSM capability, such as a phone, fax,
or pager, at a rate of 9600 bps using Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) communications scheme.
In the l980s GSM began as an analog cellular telephone system in Europe. Initially, there was problem
of equipments incompatibility around European countries where the systems were experiencing rapid
growth. The mobile equipments were limited to operation within national boundaries, which in a
unified Europe, were increasingly unimportant because an economy of scale was absolutely difficult
and substantial saving could not be realized. The Europeans realized this early on, and in 1982 the

Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 72 - 79, 2008

Conference of European Posts and Telegraphs (CEPT) formed a study group called the “Groupe
Special Mobile (GSM)” to study and develop a pan-European public land mobile system. This acronym
accidentally coincided with GSM.

According to Scourias (1995), commercial service was started in mid-1991, and by 1993 there were 36
GSM networks in 22 countries, with 25 additional countries having already selected or considering
GSM. In the beginning of 1994, there were 1.3 million subscribers worldwide. In a span of a year, that
is, by the beginning of 1995, there were over 5 million subscribers. By the standardization and
advances in digital techniques, the GSM is now purely a digital system. It can easily interface with
other digital communications systems such as Integrate Switched data network (ISDN), and digital
devices, such as Group 3 facsimile machines. Along the line the American standard of wireless
communication using Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) came into being. For most part, mobile
phones require the use of either Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) or User Identity Module (UIM) card.
These small electronic devices are approximately the size of a credit card and all of the user
information is recorded on it. This includes data such as programmed telephone numbers and network
security features, which identify the user. Without this module, the mobile equipment (ME) will not
function. This allows for greater security and also greater ease of use as this card may be transported
from one phone to another, while maintaining the same information available to the user.

Technology Basis of Wireless Telephony

The GSM uses a combination of time division multiple access (TDMA) and frequency division
multiple access (FDMA) techniques. GSM digitizes and compresses data, then sends it down a channel
with two other streams of user data, each in its own time slot. The American standard uses the code
division multiple access (CDMA) which is the third of the multiplexing techniques. Wireless telephony
is presently operating within three band namely: between 850 MHz to 900 MHz called 900 MHz; 1800
MHz to 1900 MHz called 1800 MHz frequency hands; and 450 MHz to 480 MHz called 450 MHz
frequency hands (Telecommunications Research Associates, 2007) & (Starcom, 2008).

Architecture of the Wireless Telephony Network

A wireless network is composed of several functional entities whose functions and interfaces are
specified. The wireless network can be divided into three broad parts. The subscriber carries the Mobile
Station. The Base Station Subsystem controls the radio link with the Mobile Station. The Network
Subsystem, the main part of which is the Mobile services Switching Center (MSC), performs the
switching of calls between the mobile users, and between mobile and fixed network users. The MSC
also handles the mobility management operations. Not shown is the Operations and Maintenance
Center, which oversees the proper operation and setup of the network. The Mobile Station and the Base
Station Subsystem communicate across the Um interface, also known as the air interface or radio link.
The Base Station Subsystem communicates with the Mobile services Switching Center across the A

Of the wireless telephony network architecture, the part of interest to this paper is the base station
subsystem because it is the interface between the subscriber unit (mobile station) and the network
subsystem and when it malfunctions the subscriber is cutoff and of course one of the most frequent of
the base station subsystem problems is power supply.

Base Station Subsystem

The Base Station Subsystem is composed of two parts, the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) and the
Base Station Controller (BSC). These communicate across the standardized Abis interface, allowing (as
in the rest of the system) operation between components made by different suppliers. The Base
Transceiver Station houses the radio transceivers that define a cell and handles the radio-link protocols
with the Mobile Station. In a large urban area, there will potentially be a large number of BTS
deployed, thus the requirements for a BTS are ruggedness, reliability, portability, and minimum cost.
The Base Station Controller manages the radio resources for one or more BTS. It handles radio-channel
setup, frequency hopping, and handovers. The BSC is the connection between the mobile station and
the Mobile service Switching Center (MSC).

Powering the Base Station Subsystem

Of the wireless telephony architecture, the base station subsystem (BTS & BSC) formed peoples
knowledge of the presence or not of wireless telephony in a particular location with only the exception
of operators that uses direct satellite link to their subscribers. Depending on which frequency band a

Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 72 - 79, 2008

BTS and BSC is operating on, which mainly determines the coverage area, the number of BTS and
BSC deployed in a geographical entity could be enormous and considering the fact that an average
BTS consist of electrical and electronics items like transceiver equipment aviation light ,air-
conditioners and other lightening all of these consume a total of about 27 KW of electricity, this of
course constitute a drain into our already insufficient and epileptic power supply (Aliyu,1998) and

Having understood the Nigerian terrain in terms of poor electricity supply, all the operators design their
BTS and BSC to have both connection to grid and diesel generating set(s) and for those BTS sites that
are located off grid and those in locations where there is acute power outage , a two diesel generating
sets approach is adopted. Taking into consideration the amount of money in excess of normal operation
cost the utilization of diesel generating sets had brought on the operators, it thus becomes inevitable
that consumers had to pay more for the same service compared to other place with stable electricity.
This was exactly the faith of wireless telephone users in Nigeria right from the onset GSM/ Wireless
telephony in 2001. While the consumers cry foul, the operators had been defending the reason why
high-call-cost should continue perpetually with bogus claims such as the one debunked by Aluko

Apart from high-call-cost that is blamed on high running cost, even poor services is also linked with
use of diesel generating set and this could be true if no mischief is intended because generating sets
have to be periodically maintained besides, even though seldom, breakdown maintenance. Thus a
challenge is thrown to the academic community in Nigeria to channel a way of reducing call-cost and
improving the services of the wireless telephony from the angle of, but not limited to, powering the
Base Station Subsystem.

The Photovoltaic Cell (PVC) Alternative

The sun is a nuclear power plant producing all the heat and light experienced on earth by nuclear fusion
reactions in the sun’s core .The radiant energy produced by sun is about 3.8 X 1023 kilowatts out of
which about 1.8 X 1014KW is intercepted by the earth. Again about 60% of this penetrates the earth’s
atmosphere to reach the earth surface. The atmosphere and clouds absorbs or scatter the other 40
percent. However, the total energy receives on earth is fairly constant from year to year with only 0.2%
change in 30 years (Microsoft, 2007). Hence, the solar energy alternative to power generation using
solar cell or photo voltaic cell (PVC) and balance of systems which has been in use for about 40 years
now is instructive. The infamousness of PVC as an alternative energy source to the conventional types
was due to some of its odds like cost per watt and space (site size). However, according to renewable
energy policy project in the USA (2003), PV module cost has gone down by half from 1991 to 2001
and Foster, et al (1998) said: “PV systems cost decrease significantly on a per watt basis as PV system
size is increased”.

The assertions above have made the use of PV more popular and acceptable as evident in the works of
(Foster, et al (1998) and (Moore, et al, 2003) especially for large projects of the kinds of BTS and
BSC. Figure 1 shows in schematic diagram form the PV and the balance of system arrangement.

Cost of PV System
The capital cost (that is the initial cost) of the PV system typically contains four costs viz: PV array;
balance of system; transport and installation; and project management, design and engineering.
Generally, the relative contributions of these costs to the total price of an installed system depend on
the application, the size of the system and its location. PV technology is on the threshold; costs falling
each year invariably make PV commercially mature in many applications where it can compete with
higher installation costs of long links to the grid or expensive generation from diesel set (FJC/SIS,
1999). According to Islam (2007) a 125 KW PV installation capacity cost 70 million naira for the PV
array at the rate of 4 dollar per watt of PV cell, while its balance of system cost 42 million naira.

Cost of Connection to Grid

By the present state-of-art, PV generation of energy cannot be compared with conventional systems in
terms of capital cost except where connection to grid is above 1.25 miles (Moore, et al, 2003) as in the
case of off-grid areas, and in situations of unstable power supply (too-poor-power-supply) where grid
connection is combined with the use of diesel generating set. For instance, according to (Mtel, 2007) it
costs only 3.6 million for a contractor to purchase and install a 100 KVA transformer to a site and the
operator only pays an average of 27,000 naira as monthly consumption of energy even though it is for

Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 72 - 79, 2008







an average of around four (4) hours per day, meaning the operator would have paid only 162,000 naira
monthly and 1,944,000 naira annually if supply is for 24 hours. More over, the too-poor-power-supply
scenario best describe Nigeria and that is what wireless telephony operators are encountering. Hence,
the comparison will be between first; PV versus conventional cum diesel generating set; secondly
between PV and diesel generating set as is often the case in off-grid locations. In both cases, varying
hours of generator utilization is used to generate many curves.

Cost of Installing, Operating and Maintaining Generating Sets

The analysis of data from (Mtel, 2007) revealed that it cost 3.6 million naira for a contractor to
purchase and install a 27 KVA diesel fuel generating set with a fuel storage capacity of 2000 litres, the
generating set consumes 3.5 litres of fuel per hour and for efficient and durability the generating set(s)
are made to work for 6 hours at a stretch. More over, after every 250 hours of work minor maintenance
is done on the generating set. Also major maintenance is carried out after every 7000 hours of work.
Electricity supply is said to be at an average of 3 to 4 hours per day within Maiduguri metropolitan,
more than that around Biu area of the state and less than that in the northern part of the state. For the
minor maintenance, the following items are used: 10 litres of engine oil, 1 number of oil filter, 1
number of fuel filter, and 1 number of air filter. And finally information shows that diesel is supplied at
a contract rate of 115 naira per litre.

Data Analysis
From the foregoing, in respect of PV cost, using the $4 per watt of PV cell (Renewable energy Policy
Project, 2003), and drawing proportionality from Islam (2007) cost of PV array and balance of load
given above, and using exchange rate of 120 naira to American dollar (CBN, 2008), the cost of 27
KVA PV array will be 12, 960,000 naira. Hence balance of load will be 7,760,479 naira. Putting
transport and installation cost at 1% of PV array cost for large installation, that component of the bill
will be 129,600 naira. The forth component of PV lifecycle cost (LCC), that is, (O&M) will be
calculated based on (Moore, et al 2003) who said “Operation and Maintenance (O&M) represents the
forth component takes 4 percent of the capital cost for small system of 500W and 0.6 percent for a
range of PV system providing daily energy of 2 to 10 KWh”. Therefore, O&M will be about 125,000
naira annually, and the PV system would last for 25 years (Renewable energy Policy Project, 2003).

Regarding diesel generating set, assuming an average power supply of 6 hours per day based on Mtel
(2007), the generating set would work for 18 hours in a day which give the number of generator at two
per BTS to guarantee uninterrupted telephone service. Thence, each will work for 9 hours per day, and
each will be due for minor maintenance 27.7 days (approximately one month) and major maintenance
every 778 days (approximately two years). More so, each generator will consume 31.5 litres per day

Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 72 - 79, 2008

making a total of 63 litres daily. To make the determination of lifecycle cost (LCC) easy, we estimate
N10,000.00 per minor maintenance and 100,000.00 for major maintenance. And finally according to
(Moore, et al 2003).

Lifecycle Cost (LCC) Analysis of PV, Grid and Generating Set

From information regarding cost of PV, grid and generating set, table 1 is drawn for easy comparison
for 27 KVA of PV and Generating set and 100 KVA distribution transformer.

Photovoltaic Grid Generating Set

PV array: N12,960,000 Installation of Installation of generator:

Distribution Xformer: N3,600,000

Balance of System: N7,760,479 Monthly Bill in 1 year: Cost of monthly fuel

N324,000 consumption: N108,675

Transport and installation: Cost of annual Cost of annual maintenance:

N129,600 maintenance: N10,000 N120,000

Total: N20,850,079 Cost of biennial maintenance:


Operation and Maintenance per

annum: N125,100

Based on data from table 1 four LCC curves were plotted each depicting different combination of PV,
grid and generator. The plot of figure 2 is the best situation in which PV is compared with the
combination of grid and generator supplies with grid supplying for 18 hours and generator for 6 hours.
Figure 3 represent the next best situation where both grid and generator supply for 12 hours each, and
only one generator is used. This is followed by the most common situation in Nigeria where grid only
supplies for 6 hours and generator for 18 hours and of course, two generators are used. Lastly is the off-
grid situation in which two generators are employed.

PV Vs Grid cum Generator (Grid 18 Hrs & Gen 6 Hrs)


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

PV System Grid & Generator


Both numerical and graphical results show that even in the best possible situation in Nigeria, PV
system is still better in the long run as PV system balance up with grid cum generating set before the
fifteenth year.

Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 72 - 79, 2008

PV Vs Grid cum Generator (Grid 12 Hrs & Gen 12 Hrs)


40,000,000 PV System
30,000,000 Grid & Generator
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25


In this situation where one generator is used to generate for 12 hours and grid supply is also 12 hours
PV system was able to catch only within eight years.

PV Vs Grid cum Generator (Grid 6 Hrs & Gen 18 Hrs)


Am ount




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

PV System Grid &Generator


The LCC curve of figure 4 is the ideal situation for Nigeria and as can be seen PV system is proved
better just before five years.
PV Vs 2 Generator

Am ount

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

PV System Generator Only (2/ site)


The last scenario is the rural or off-grid situation where two generators work for 12 hours each per day,
again PV system demonstrates it economic advantage.

Tackling Site Size

At this juncture, the only problem that may militate against the use of PV system especially for BTS
and BSC sites located in urban areas is the space requirement of PV array. This problem could be
solved if PV cells could be arranged on the station’s mast as shown in figure 6, and using ideas from
“Life Cycle Design Research” the whole mast structure could be examined to see if it could be made of
PV material.

Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 72 - 79, 2008


The LCC curves of figures 2 to 5 have shown that PV alternative is better for BTS and BSC supply at
all times. First, it catches up with the best of situation in Nigeria within fifteen years, the second best
situation within eight years, Nigerian ideal situation within six years, and the off-grid situation within
five years. More so, the proposed site plan makes it unnecessary to expand the present BTS/ BSC sites
size for arrangement of PV array.

From the foregoing, LCC results have shown that the used of PV cell as a sole alternative power supply
to BTS and BSC is economically viable over a period of time than diesel generating set or combination
of generator and conventional supply. The only exception is when conventional method can deliver
electricity supply for 24 hours uninterrupted, effectively and for a long period of time. More so, when
the “Cost Benefit Analysis” is done, the use of PV and indeed renewable energy will be seen to be far
superior to conventional methods. In addition to that, the use of mast to hang PV cells makes the idea

Having seen the results above, it is recommended that the managements of wireless telephony firms
should quickly embrace the PV alternative proposed in this paper.
Furthermore, the Nigerian government should sponsor more research into non-conventional methods of
electricity generation to address the country’s acute power supply problems.

Aliyu, U.O. (1998). Some though on Nigerian energy demeand outlook into the next century:
Prospects, problem and R & D directions. 8th inaugural lecture series, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
University, Bauchi.

Aluko, M. (2004). GSM: Cutting cost of power generation, The Punch, Tuesday 13 January, 2004. P.

Central Bank of Nigeria, (2008). www.cenbank. Org. ng/

FJC/SIS, (1999). Photovoltaics: Cost and economics, FJC/SIS www.fjc/

Foster, R., Cisneros, G., & Hanley, C. (1998). Lifecycle cost analysis for photovoltaic water pumping
systems in Mexico, 2nd World conference on photovoltaic solar energy conversion, 6 – 10 July, Vienna,

Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah et al: Continental J. Engineering Sciences 3: 72 - 79, 2008

Islam, M. S. (2007). Assessment of electricity supply for critical load, Ph D seminar, Abubakar Tafawa
Balewa University, Bauchi.

Microsoft, (2007). Microsoft Inc, Microsoft Encarta. GSM

Moore, L. M., Malczynski, L. A., Strachan, J. W., & Post, H. N. (2003). Lifecycle cost assessment of
fielded photovoltaic systems, Sandia National Laboratories, NCPV and Solar Program Review
Meeting, USA

Mtel PLC Maiduguri Office, (2007). Title, place of publication etc

National Communication Commission (NCC), (2008).

Renewable Energy Policy Project in the USA (2003). Cost benefit analysis for photovoltaic program: A
case study of Arizona, USA.

Scourias, J. (1995). Overview of global system for mobile communications, waterloo, University of
waterloo. USA.

Somolu, F.A. (2006). The yesterday, today and the future of power system engineering in Nigeria….so
that Nigeria may have electricity. The Nigerian Society of Engineers’ October lecture, 6th October
2006, National Engineering Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos Nigeria.

Starcom Nig. Ltd. Maiduguri Office, (2008). Title, place of publication etc

Telecommunications Research Associates. (2007). Understanding the basics of wireless

communications. Kansas (USA). Telecommunications Research Associates (TRA) LLC.

Received for Publication: 24/04/2008

Accepted for Publication: 16/06/2008

Corresponding Author:
Aboaba, A. Abdulfattah
Computer Engineering Department, University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri, Bornu State.