From heavy oil extraction in Canada, shale oil and gas production in the US and coal usage in China and India, energy successes are clearly linked to optimal utilization of available resources no matter how unconventional. In stark contrast, Nigeria's associated gas is continually flared and treated as a huge liability despite gas proven environmental advantage and heating efficiency in industrial and domestic processes. It is sad to note, for example, that the perennial flaring of gas in the Niger Delta has ever existed along side perennial kerosene scarcity all over Nigeria.
The main challenge with the utilization of associated gas in Nigeria is the low pressure and volume of the gas available at a particular producing station. Harnessing these low-pressured, scattered gas resources using conventional technologies will require expensive gathering, compression and transportation systems.
In this paper, the authors explore the potential contribution of activated carbon in gas utilization efforts in Nigeria. Activated carbon allows the adsorptive storage of natural gas at a relatively low pressure. The natural pressure of the produced gas may be sufficient or a low capacity compressor may be installed for this purpose. This could allow the setting up of small activated carbon adsorption units wherever gas is routinely flared in the Niger Delta. From an environmental and economic view point, this is a game changer as flaring is reduced and gas is made available for productive purposes. Since activated carbon is usually produced from waste carbon material, the scheme will potentially also aid solid waste management. Nigeria's under-utilized water bodies in the Niger Delta may provide for cheap transportation of activated carbon blocks to and from adsorption stations.