A Professor in the University’s Department of Chemistry, College of Physical Sciences (COLPHYS), Professor Ighodalo Eromosele, has produced paint from the seed oil of Ximenia americana plant, commonly known as Wild Olive. Professor Eromosele, a Polymer Chemist, said the oil paint which was produced has qualities comparable to those of the imported ones. Thus, Linseed oil, which is currently being imported for paint production can be substituted with Ximenia oil.
According to him, "Ximenia plant grows wild in the North. The exploratory research on the oil for the purpose of establishing its potential for paint production attracted the attention and funding of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Abuja. But beyond that, we have produced paint based on the oil in a systematic study by a Masters’ degree student under my supervision, thus demonstrating the potential utilization of the oil in this regard. In my humble opinion, this is Research for Development, one of direct industrial relevance”.
Professor Eromosele remarked, however, that the plant grows in the wild. “It is a wild plant; it is not cultivated and is not like having a vegetation of the plant. So, there remains another area that we have to look at. That is, how to grow the plant particularly, here in the southern end of the country or where it is best suited to grow so that we can have a whole lot of vegetation to harvest the seed and then of course, the oil”. The Don, who noted that he had not patented the oil, said it was due to the fact that there was still a lot to be done by way of domestication of the plant, so that mass production becomes feasible.
On value addition, Professor Eromosele, whose research interests include ionic and free radical polymerization of vinyl monomers, polymer stabilization, local raw materials sourcing, studies on local fibres, graft copolymerization reactions and environmental chemistry, disclosed that his research activities include production of metal soaps from seed oils and utilization of same for stabilization of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC). According to him, “PVC is very versatile as a material in terms of applications. It is used for making pipes, upholsteries and many other products but it is a material that is very unstable. When you are processing it under heat, it can degrade easily and lose its properties. So what we have done in this regard is not particularly unique; we are only being innovative by producing stabilizers from seed oil in the wild for stabilization of PVC against degradation by heat”
Speaking on how the country and industries could benefit from research activities embarked upon in the nation’s Ivory Towers, Professor Eromosele said, “Our prayer is that the country would come to a level where there would be a synergy between Industry and Universities or Industry and Research Centres. For now, what we have is that Industries are disconnected from the Universities and Research Centres, the reason being that Nigeria has not grown to a level, whereby we have defined objectives with regards to services from our institutions. Many people and governments still do not see the University as institutions established to provide certain services. The full potentials of the University still remain fully untapped in Nigeria. Yet, other countries develop on the basis of promoting research for defined national objectives. Universities in Nigeria are not tied to national development agenda, so this the first problem with regards to research output from the Universities and how they translate into development of the society”, he said.