FAMU News Release:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Peter Kalu, Ph.D., a Florida A&M University (FAMU) mechanical engineering professor at FAMU/Florida State University (FSU) College of Engineering, has been selected as a Fulbright Scholar grantee to Nigeria by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB).
“I was very excited to hear the news that I was actually a Fulbright Scholar,” Kalu said. “In addition to conducting research, I hope to strengthen the already established ties FAMU has with the University of Abuja in Nigeria.”
FAMU and the University of Abuja signed a memorandum of agreement May 2008 to strengthen the bonds among the institutions; further the academic, social and cultural objectives of both institutions; and promote better understanding among the faculty, staff, and students of the respective institutions.
As a Fulbright Scholar, Kalu will conduct research, in collaboration with Professor O. O. Adewoyein, in Nigeria from August 2009 to June 2010, on an alternative method of hardening metal – pack cyaniding of mild steel using cassava leaves, an indigenous, raw material.
Like most African countries, Nigeria has an acute shortage of spare parts and components for maintenance work especially in the automobile industry. Most of such spare parts rely mainly on surface hardened steel. Surface hardening is commonly used to improve the wear and impact resistance of engineering parts, which may still retain softer and tougher interiors. This means that one can harden the surface of less expensive low-carbon steel for components, which would have otherwise required the more expensive high-carbon steel. Conventional method of surface hardening is expensive and toxic.
Kalu’s research will seek an alternative method to harden mild steel with cassava leaves. Although cassava roots serve as staple food for a majority of Nigerians, the leaves are discarded because they contain cyanogenic glucoside, a plant compound that contains sugar and produces cyanide.
Kalu intends to use cassava leaves and peels as well as various energizers or catalyst, including BaCO3 and BaCl2 in the pack cyaniding of mild steel at various temperatures. The ultimate goal is to develop an effective method that can be commercialized and readily adaptable for other material processing.
Kalu has been a professor at the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering for 15 years. He obtained his doctorate degree from Imperial College, University of London. His research and expertise is in advanced materials processing and characterization. He is able to convert metallic and composite materials for usage for specific applications. Kalu’s research has particular interest to the United States military for ballistic and ammunition uses and the aerospace and automotive industries.
As a Fulbright grantee, Kalu will join the ranks of approximately 300,000 distinguished participants in this program, which is made possible through annual funding from the United States Congress, partnering countries and the private sector.