Friday, November 30, 2001
Nigerian, Abbah, listed among world's best inventors in 2001
SIMPLE manipulation of earthen pots with a sizeable dose of common sense thinking, has earned a Nigerian an enviable place among the inventors of the year 2001. His invention, a simple refrigerating device which solves the wastage problem of perishable foods has been listed among the best inventions of the year by the Time magazine.
A local teacher in the North, Mohammed Bah Abbah's devices comprises a small earthenware pot placed inside a large one. The space between the two is then filled with moist sand. Food items to be preserved are then put in the inner smaller pot ñ fruits, soft drinks, vegetable and a wet cloth cover the whole setup.
Then as the water in the moist sand evaporates through the larger pot, it carries heat away from the inner core of the whole contraption.
Tomatoes and pepper stored in this device last for up to three weeks while egg plants that don't keep for more than three days now last for 27.
Ideal for areas where electricity is epileptic or non-existent, the devise is a simplified application of simple law of physics: Heat of Evaporation.
Every liquid requires some energy to evaporate. This energy, in form of heat is taken from the surface on which the liquid is in contact. The more rapid the rate of evaporation, the fast the rate at which heat is extracted or drawn from the surface.
Thus volatile liquids like methylated spirit-ethanol which evaporate rapidly when placed in the palms draw heat energy of reposition at a fast rate and thus cause the palm to feel cold as they evaporate.
This is the principle applied in modern electricity driven fridges with the compressor pump circulating a volatile liquid through the pipes run round the refrigerator.
Abbah's invention is however a clever application of this principle within the limitations of available local materials to achieve the desired end ñ preservation.
A recipient of the Rolex Award for Enterprise, Abbah, 37 hails from a family of pot makers. He is using his $75,000 award to make the invention available throughout Nigeria.
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