October 17, 2013
Justus Amandianaze Nwaoga is a Nigerian who has discovered that the Mimosa Pudica weed has solar properties suitable for the production of solar cells.
The point of departure of this innovation was the following reflection: "why do the Mimosa pudica leaves collapse when touched, only to open again within minutes in daylight?" He has written a book on his innovation: Plant Weed for Solar Cell Development in which he describes his findings which made him one of the 10 finalists of the Innovation Prize for Africa in 2013. He also disclosed his findings during his presentation at the 26th European Union Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition held in Hamburg, Germany, in September 2011.
In short, bio-accumulators are constructed using the electrolytes derived from the Mimosa weed. Exposed to sunlight, solar cells constructed with the weed extracts were found to accumulate solar energy which was converted to electrical energy. The whole innovation is based on that principle.
Thanks to this breakthrough, it became possible to construct a functional solar panel with the Mimosa weed extract. The solar panel is designed in such a way that the electrical potential of the cells can be restored on exposure to direct sun rays, after they have been discharged.
When the chemistry of the material was better understood, it became possible to generate a steady DC current that lit a 4.5 V lamp.
Justus Nwaoga is Chief Technologist in the department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Most of the time, in Africa, we do not consider such geniuses who may naturally be tempted to sell their skills abroad. They will then contribute in developing geniuses-buyer-nations that will end up selling us products that were originally conceived in Africa, by Africans. Then, as usual, African leaders will complain about brain drain… What an irony.