By Mercy Hill
A vast majority of us are not yet aware of the possibility of a generator running on water. It is not a very popular technology in Africa, more so, in Nigeria.
However, a young man with no academic credentials but with so much creative potentials has dared and succeeded in doing the impossible. His name is Emeka Nelson.
The 25 years old Emeka, who invented the water powered generator, is the Co-founder and Chief Engineer of Orange Gen-Electric Limited. His success didn't come by a sudden flight. Just like the Thomas Edison of old, he toiled and failed many times before he caught his breakthrough.
In his interview with Fides Inspirational Personality Page Anchor, he shared his stories of failures, struggles, determination and success.
Hello, may we know you?
My name is Emeka Nelson, born on the 12th day in January 1994, into the family of Mr. and Mrs. John Ugwueze in one village in Udenu LGA of Enugu state. One thing I don't forget to tell people is that, I was born under a coconut tree. My mum was in labour and before she could get to the village maternity, she gave birth to me.
I left my family at a very tender age to Awka, Anambra State to live with a family as a house boy. Even in that situation, I had been a very curious child, who had this large imagination and I do a lot of abnormal things, that's what people say.
When I came to Awka, I was six years old, and I could neither read nor write in school. I was always used as caricature then in school. It was in that process, I encountered my friend, who did not make jest of me, a local boy from Nsukka who couldn't read. He was the only one who understood me. He believed in me. It was with much personal determination, I started reading. From primary school, I started reading novels, I encountered physics textbooks, even without knowledge what they were. By then I started growing this passion for science and technology; I was always curious to learn and do newer things.
One day, I opened my textbook and I saw a box and I found out that water was what they used to generate electricity, my teacher once told us also, that water was used to generate electricity. I too, wanted to explore that fact, I went home that day and tried all I could to generate light from water, but it failed. The next day I went to school as early as possible and complained bitterly to my teacher how my practical failed. Instead of explaining to me, she started laughing, thinking I was going mad. We tried again it did not work. Right now, I have understood that learning is a gradual process, you don't rush into something, thinking it would just be magical. As time went on, we needed a dynamo, and that was how my friend went to steal his grandfather's bicycle's dynamo which earned him twelve strokes of cane, but the surprising part of it all was that, he never told them that he gave it to me, probably because he knew they would come back for it. He was willing to take the pain, just for us to achieve our aim. You can't imagine that all these happened while I was in the primary School.
But the unfortunate story was that, my friend died before all these came to fulfilment.
Okay, staying with the family I was with in Awka was not easy, but I saw all as discipline because it formed me to what I have planned to be now.
In Secondary School, I began to break grounds. I began to go for exhibitions, won competitions and awards for my school. And I was favoured because of that. Also, in secondary school, I met another friend who remained a great support to me after I lost my childhood friend.
In secondary school, we broke newer grounds that we went for competitions representing Nigeria and then people picked interest in us and we were given scholarships.
So, I applied for admission into the University and Polytechnic, but I was denied. So, I went to the National Metallurgical Training Institute, Onitsha, where I got an OND. But even before the institute, I had invented the Gen-electric machine, contracted by some companies to come and work and was paid for the services I rendered. I also found out a way of recycling waste to produce fuel, it won two awards. Some Scientists heard of the invention and they confirmed my products, but they noted that it couldn't be sampled out for commercial use until it passed through some treatment before it could be confirmed for use.
I had this dream of owning an energy company,that is green. I dreamt to inspire young minds, change the narrative that things can only be done by those who have so many academic qualifications. I wanted raw talents on the streets to come prove themselves and be useful, just like I did.
How did you come about these inventions and what tools did you use to achieve them?
In sciences, many think I have gone against the law of physics, which makes my job not possible. I am a fellow in the Institute of Mechanical Engineering. The thing is that, a flowing water is what is channelled into a turbine; it's almost a similar thing that happened with mine but it is a very compact and more advanced format. I was able to come up with a turbine that can take in a kind of sustention. For example, in terms of air, we have one bar of air going into a system. Once that one bar goes to the system, it is transformed into five bars and it keeps it working. Though, my work is not yet perfect but it has proven to be good. In fact we wanted going into partnership with China Aerospace but the conditions they placed on it would make me loose credits of my job, so we had to let it go.
We have a lot of offers right now. The last design was 100 KVA, which runs for complete six hours. But, because of its imperfection, it has a downtime after six hours, which we are still working very hard to correct. So, we are planning to bring out 5 and 10KVA powered with water, which we have already designed. Soon we will invent airplanes powered with water and many other things. Infact these are the things Orange Gen-electric is all about. We are bringing in young minds with the raw talents and right mindset.
How did this invention come to limelight?
Hmmm…I was on Linkedin, when I encountered a man who was doling out money to people. I tried to seize the opportunity to plead with him to help sponsor me in furthering my education. I sent messages, videos and many stuffs about my inventions and what I could do, but he never replied me. I think that was where the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, saw some of those things and linked me up. It was later I found out that they were following me and my works for two years before they had a meetup with me.
To be continued…