Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
THE National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has designed a new ammonium production plant that could be a solution to the country’s fertiliser shortage.
The new technology is being exhibited at the on-going Zimbabwe International Trader Fair (ZITF), which has become a hub for technological contest between higher and tertiary learning institutions.
The Bulawayo-based university is showcasing the new technology, which can substitute fertiliser imports that have been gobbling millions of dollars from the economy each year. Nust director of communication and marketing, Mr Felix Moyo, told Business Chronicle yesterday that the ammonium production plant was a simplified and affordable version that is an important asset in the agricultural sector.
“A number of ammonium manufacturing companies have shut down in the country and this is the reason why the country is importing fertiliser.
“The university has manufactured a simplified and affordable version of a plant that produces fertiliser to substitute importation of fertiliser. Zimbabwe is an agricultural based country and fertiliser is an important product in the sector,” said Mr Moyo.
He said the plant uses both electricity and solar power as sources of energy, making it affordable and cost effective to production.
“Manufacturing companies are shutting down because of the high cost of power in producing the fertilisers. This particular plant can use solar energy, which is affordable. It also produces two by-products, carbon dioxide and oxygen. These by-products can be used in the medical industry or by beverage companies,” said Mr Moyo.
Students at the university have also invented an automatic head motion controlled wheelchair and a low cost home monitor system.
The head motion controlled wheelchair can be used by accident victims and people who have suffered strokes while the home monitor system, is connected to a cellphone and reports every movement in the house premises where it is installed.
“The gadget is connected to the internet via wifi. When installed, the cellphone receives notifications on whatever happens in the house. When motion button is pressed the monitor has a camera that takes pictures. The cellphone also reports instantly when a window or a door is opened,” said Mr Moyo.
Meanwhile, the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic has also invented a cellphone controlled alarm system that uses the existing mobile networks to be connected to the cellphone.
Mr Joel Maugara, an electrical power engineering lecturer at the institution, said the alarm system was an affordable way of keeping intruders away from homes and companies.
“Through this alarm, the cellphone reports whenever there’s movement in the premises while the owners are away.
The cellphone is used to activate and deactivate the alarm and this can be done from anywhere regardless of distance. Instead of using our cellphones for social media and games only, we can also use them to protect our homes,” said Mr Maugara.
The polytechnic also invented a mathematical self-help question and answer machine that helps students improve their mathematical skills and develop interest in the subject.