From Mainland to the Island
The O.T.E.C Technology
NaijaCab online should get me to my workplace on the Island on time.
I glanced at my wristwatch.
It was 7: 45 a.m.
I sighed as I rested my head on the leather seat of the cab in which I was in.
Since I started my job as an Ocean Engineer in Oak Energy Company three years ago, this was the first time I would be making use of a car hire service.
My personal car is in the mechanics. I hope they meet up with today's deadline for repair of the car.
As we crossed over the bridge connecting Coconut bus stop to the Tin Can Island Ports, I sighted a vessel being pulled to berth to one of the terminal of the ports.
I felt like giving a voice command to NaijaCab to wind down.
I felt like smelling the oceans. It was this ethereal smells and sights of the ocean that attracted me to the career choice of an ocean engineer.
Then, it was love for work. It was passion for the work. A passion did not make the alarm clock not to sound like a deathwatch on a Monday morning.
A faint honk sound drew me out of the mesmerizing wells of the ocean. The metallic worm was approaching. This was what I called the big green train that now transverse through the middle of the port road of Lagos.
It slithered through the rails carrying its metallic containers. It was on its way to one of the trailer parks around Oshodi, Lagos.
Back in the days, we had more trailers that covered the roads leading to the nation's seaport than the sands over a beach. The hefty trailers were pouring in from different part of the country. It was as if that there was a weather report that gold was now falling in Apapa.
Traffic Congestion, container falling on cars, explosions caused by these trailers became the norm.
Then, a miracle occurred.
A day came that a government came in and said enough was enough. This statement was different as Government took action.
Maybe, a government official was caught up in the Apapa gridlock. Due to that delay, he missed a meeting on the Island. Thus, he lost some lucrative contracts and contacts.
Maybe, a government official had a family member that was asthmatic and began gasping for oxygen already displaced by the carbon monoxide fumes of the trailers.
So many talks on why government took action on the port roads.
People do talk as well.
Government talk. People talk.
The day came when Government decided to do away with the trailers and put a rail and a train on the port roads.
Fast forward to this year, 2028, the Oshodi to Apapa Expressway is among the freest and among the most organized network of roads in the world.
It was 8:10 a.m.
Was it the cab being slow or I am just being impatient?
I frowned at the ash dashboard of the cab. If there was a driver, I would be frowning at the back of the head of the driver wondering why it seems the cab was not moving fast enough.
I would have asked him why it seemed the cab was slow.
There was no human head to direct my frown. There was no human driver to ask question.
I could only frown at a dashboard and a steering wheel as I was on a self-driving car hire service.
If I should be ask the virtual assistant controlling this self-driving Naija cab, I sense it would give me a one hour-long reply on the history of current status of the acceleration rate of all the different models of car.
Thanks but no thanks.
Let me listen to the radio while checking my email.
Though I have missed the early morning news slated for 8:00 a.m, I can make do with the voice of an O.A.P in this quiet car.
"Switch on the Radio and tune to Point F.M”
"Okay, Modesta" NaijaCab online replied.
Joshua Bashua's baritone voice on good morning Nigeria show should keep me company. I leaned towards the big handbag seated next to me to take out my tablet.
"Once more, Engineer Badmus, thank you for joining us here on the good morning Nigeria show” Joshua Bashua's voice filled the interiors of the cab.
"J.B, you know it is always a pleasure to be here on Point F.M"
I paused in the grand search of my tablet in my handbag. I was concentrating in the search of my tablet among many belongings in my handbag when the voice of my boss came in.
Engineer Badmus, Founder and C.E.O, Oak Energy Company was on Point F.M.
My! What time did he get to the studio of the radio station? Did he sleep over at Point F.M the previous night?
I smiled and shook my head.
At the same time, I let out a sigh of relief. My hand had finally connected with the aluminum covering of my tablet.
I should add emptying the large amount of personal belongings in my handbag on my To-Do list.
"Engineer Badmus, tell us about the OTEC technology that your company is well known for."
"OTEC stands for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. This is a technology which involves getting useful energy from the oceans."
My hand that was moving all over the touch screen of my tablet was like I was signing a cheque.
"Shed more light on this technology “Joshua Bashua asked in an exciting voice.
Engineer Badmus cracked his throat.
"Most of the electricity we use is from heat engines of some kind. A heat engine is a machine that cycles between two different temperatures, one hot and one cold. For example, in a steam turbine, coal heats water to make hot, high pressure steam, which is then allowed to expand and cool down to a lower temperature and pressure, pushing a piston and turning a wheel as it does.
The greater the temperature difference between the hot steam and the cooled water vapour it becomes, the more energy that can be extracted. This is where OTEC comes in .It uses the temperature difference between the hot surface of the ocean and the cooler deeper layers of ocean water to drive a heat engine."
"Interesting! Tell us more about Oak Company's OTEC plants"
"Our OTEC plant is an open-cycle system of mechanism. It is located offshore. Those of us using the Third Mainland Bridge would be conversant with the structure out there on the Atlantic Ocean. The plant consists of large pipes and a turbine. At the surface of the ocean, hot seawater is turned to steam by reducing its pressure knowing that liquid can turn to its gaseous state either when the temperature is raised or its pressure reduced. The generated steam is used to drive the turbine and generate electricity. The steam is then condensed back to water using cold water pumped up from the ocean depths. The electricity generated is transported ashore through a cable to our plants over there in Eko Atlantic City."
"Awesome! Some of this generated electricity are added to the national grid, right?
"Very true. At present, we are supplying 20 MW to the national grid"
"We look forward to seeing more of these off-shore OTEC plants on our shores, Engineer?"
"We have ongoing projects. We would inform Nigerians of the latest of the Ocean Terminal Energy Conversion technology and its potentialities of generating renewable energy to power the country"
"We eagerly look forward to the latest from Oak Energy Company. Thank you for coming to Point F.M, Engineer"
"To our beloved listeners, we would be right back after this commercial break. Stay tuned"
My boss can never stop talking about the OTEC technology.
"I am to the OTEC technology what Apostle Paul is to the Lord’s gospel “My Boss would always emphasize during one of our early-morning briefs.
The passion would be visible in his long lean face. He would lean forward on the table, his two bulging arms placed on it. There are times I think he was about to leap on the table and stamp the gospel of the OTEC technology into our head.
There was kaleidoscope of colours in the periphery of my visual field.
With a jerk of my neck to the right, I was staring at Erica Njame.
My! That is my favorite Nigerian actress. I sighed in exasperation when I saw she was not there in flesh.
That was not in the form I was now seeing the tall, dark-complexioned actor.
She was on a billboard that its mainframe was in a horizontal position.
A sharp three-dimensional image of the actress beamed out from the screen of the electronic billboard.
She looked real. I could not hear her words through the cab. From the images being shown, she was promoting an inverter that reminded me of those large generator used to power telecommunication masts.
We were now approaching the Third Mainland Bridge. Along the bridges were different electronic billboards promoting one product or the other.
A large number of the advertisements were by Energy companies .There is stiff competition in the Energy industry. Different companies were advertising different forms of energy ranging from solar energy, geothermal energy, biofuel, good old hydrothermal energy and of course the OTEC technology.
Nigerians have lots of option to choose. It bores down to the company's marketing strategies.
If it comes to that, my company is on top of its game.
We were now cruising through the Third Mainland Bridge.
That was when I saw the silver plant.
One cannot miss it when your eyes are on the Atlantic Ocean.
The early morning sun glittered against the silver structure in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
At first sight, it looked like a type of offshore oil drilling rig.
Being an ocean engineer, I knew this large structure was not one.
I would know it was not one because my company was the one that actually built it.
The plant was on a tethered floating platform.
Take away those metallic mazes and cranes on typical offshore oil rig and replace it with large dome-like metallic structures, you now have an image of this OTEC plant.
Inside those water-resistant domes were different large pipes, generators, turbines, diffuser, evaporators, etc.
I always feel a sense of pride and accomplishment seeing the fruit of one's labour every working day on my way to work. At a young age of 25 years, that feeling runs deep.
We connected to Marina road on Lagos Island. The streets of the Island were being filled up. Green and yellow driverless Naija Cabs were picking up and taking people to their place of work. The white train on the monorail overhead that linked the Island to Okokomaiko on the Mainland moved over me on a steady pace.
I was now in front of the Triple Tower Building. My office was on the 15th floor of the 20 storey skyscraper building.I placed my tablet back into my bag.I wondered if my boss, Engineer Badmus, was already in the office.
Maybe he was now on his way to a national T.V station to talk to Nigerians about the OTEC technology.