Production Of Alkali Using Local Raw Material

Project and Seminar Material for Chemical Engineering

Production Of Alkali Using Local Raw Material


The project aims to develop a flow process to obtain the optimum temperature and time necessary for the maximum recovery of alkali present in palm inflorescence.

On this ground, a preliminary experiment was performed. During this process, both male and female palm inflorescence were compared for maximum alkali production and it was observed that the female palm inflorescence produced highest quantity of alkali than the male palm inflorescence. Based on this, the female palm inflorescence was used in performing the experiment.

Also, experiments were carried out to determine the optimum temperature and time for maximum alkali recovery. After the analysis and analytical calculations it was found that the optimum temperature for maximum alkali production is 4500c and the corresponding time for the production is 90 minutes.

Chapter One


Over the years, alkali has been of prime importance as raw material both for industrial and laboratory purpose. Alkali as a word was derived from an erabic word, which mean ashes. Ashes could be wood ashes, Ngu ashes or any other type of ash sourced by burning a given material. Alkali is said to be the basic hydroxide, which is soluble in water.

The compounds of alkali metals are so soluble that they tend to be leached out of the soil by rainwater end hence carried by streams and rivers to the sea. Based on this, sea water contain about three percent (3%) by weight of alkali salts.

Alkalis are produced both industrially end locally. The local production is mainly by the use of palm inflorescence or plantain peels. It involved burning of the palm inflorescence and subsequently leaching out of the alkali with water. When the produced alkali is sourced, potassium hydroxide is much in quantity then sodium hydroxide. About 45% of alkali is obtained using the female palm inflorescence of the oil palm tree.

The quality of the leachate obtained depends on the following.

  1. Ashing condition
  2. Solvent used
  3. The type of plant ash used
  4. Method of leaching

One of the major raw materials for soap production is alkali. The alkali may be a hydroxide, a carbonate of hydrogen carbonate. The cations most commonly used are those of sodium and potassium. At the time of saponification, they denote metal ions, which form soap with fatty acid.



H2      C       –        C       OR1


H       C       –        C       –        OR11  +       3xY   3RC00x      +       CH2   Y

CH2   Y

H2      C       –        C       –        OR111                                                 CH2   Y

Where x is a metal ion

Many of the alkali has gained wide application some of them are sodium hydroxide (Na0H), sodium carbonate (Na0 C03), potassium hydroxide (KOH), sodium hydrogen carbonate and potassium hydrogen carbonate (KHC03).

The Objectives of the Project Research

  1. Establishment of the best and optimum method of producing high quality alkali locally.
  2. Development of a flow process to obtain the optimum temperature and time needed for the maximum recovery of the high quality alkali and specification of its concentration at this optimum condition.
  3. Preparation of the detailed process flow diagram.

Significance of the Research

It is important to state that production of alkali locally is very much encouraged. This is because soap which is one of the numerous products produced by the use of alkali finds extensive usage both in domestic and other general laundry activities.

In order to sustain the industry in dear need of alkali as a major raw material, there is the need that alkali should be locally produced, more especially at this period of time that the federal government has placed ban on importation of some of the basic raw materials needed in soap and soap related industries.

For there to be continuity of these industries, alkali which is a major raw material must be source locally. This can be obtained by the use of palm inflorescence of oil palm (Eleasis Guineasis). The production of alkali through this means, makes 17 possible for soap industries and other related industries to obtain one of their major raw materials.
Owing to the fact that this production process is relatively cheap, it prevents the expenses incurred in the importation of alkali for soap production and other uses which subsequently reduces the cost of the final products.

Hence, this research project is geared towards harnessing the somewhat neglected Nigerian’s agricultural prowess in the preservation of the vest palm trees found in her rich forest, and then make appropriate use of its palm inflorescence in the production of alkali.

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