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PROJECT ID : 32354
TYPE : Project
PAGES : 31
PRICES : N3000 (12 USD)



Science Lab. Technology


This study elucidates the local means or methods of producing alkali of higher quality and also expounds the areas in which the produced alkali is of significant use. The local raw material used was the female oil palm inflorescence which was obtained from the mature palm fruit bunches harvested from the palm fruit plantation, and further processed to separate the fruits from the bunches. Thereafter, the empty palm fruit bunches were dried on the sun for effective burning off of the carbon materials. The obtained ashes were soaked with water and the liquid content leached out to obtain alkali. The quality of alkali at this stage was of minimal value and concentration. In order to improve its quality, it was subjected to heat (boiling). The quality and amount (quantity) of alkali produced depends on the amount of heat supplied and the duration.



Title Page-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------i

Declaration -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ii

Approval page--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------iii

Dedication ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------iv

Acknowledgement ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------v

Abstract ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------vi

Table of contents------------------------------------------------------------------------------------vii

1.0 Introduction -----------------------------------------------------------------------1

1.1 Background of the study ---------------------------------------------------------1

1.2 Statement of the study ------------------------------------------------------------3

1.3 Objectives of the study -----------------------------------------------------------4

1.4 Significance of the study --------------------------------------------------------4

1.5 Scope/ Limitations of the study -------------------------------------------------5

1.6 Definition of terms ---------------------------------------------------------------5


2.0 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE -------------------------------------7

2.1 Oil palm tree (description)-------------------------------------------------------7

2.2 Potash Content ------------------------------------------------------------------13

2.3 Alkali and Base Content --------------------------------------------------------15

2.4 Inflorescence (description)-----------------------------------------------------16

2.5 Applications of oil palm inflorescent alkali ---------------------------------18

2.5.1 Agricultural Application -----------------------------------------------------18

2.5.2 Domestic Application --------------------------------------------------------19

2.5.3 Industrial and Laboratory Applications-------------------------------------19

2.5.4 Medicinal Application --------------------------------------------------------20


3.0 Materials and Methodology of Research ------------------------------------21

3.1 Materials --------------------------------------------------------------------------21

3.1.1 Plant Materials or Chemicals------------------------------------------------21

3.1.2 Reagents of Analysis----------------------------------------------------------21

3.1.3 Apparatus for Analysis -------------------------------------------------------21

3.2 Methodology --------------------------------------------------------------------23

3.2.1 Laboratory Methods ----------------------------------------------------------23

3.2.2 Sample Collection ------------------------------------------------------------23

3.2.3 Sample Preparation -----------------------------------------------------------24

3.2.4 Experimental Procedures ----------------------------------------------------24

3.2.5 Experimental Analysis -------------------------------------------------------25



4.1 Presentation of Results ---------------------------------------------------------27

4.2 Analysis of Results --------------------------------------------------------------27

4.3 Discussion of Results -----------------------------------------------------------28



5.1 Summary ------------------------------------------------------------------------30

5.2 Conclusion -----------------------------------------------------------------------31

5.3 Recommendations ---------------------------------------------------------------32

References ----------------------------------------------------------------------------33





Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is a versatile tree of the palm family called Arecaceae, which renders many uses to its cultivators. It is naturally designed in such a way that almost all its components are found to be useful to the local people and the world at large. Elaeis guineensis is made of strong fibrous root system which holds the tree firmly in the soil; a straight and long standing stem which can be hewn to make fire woods or saw to produce timber for constructional purposes; the riped fruits which undergo some series of processing methods to produce palm kernel, fibrous mesocarp, and palm oil. The palm kernels are broken and reprocessed to obtain palm kernels shells used locally as a fuel, palm kernel oil, used in manufacturing such edible products like margarine, ice cream, cookies, chocolate, confections, bread, as well as some pharmaceutical products; and palm kernel cake after oil extraction serves as animal feed. The dried fibrous mesocarp is also used as fuel as in the case of the kernel shell, while the wet ones are used as pig feed in  most local areas.

The palm oil is used in soap production and also in producing candles, cosmetics, lubricating grease, in tin plate processing, and in iron plate coating. Besides these uses, palm oil is also applicable in food-industry and in the production of biofuel. More carbon is released during the life cycle of a palm oil plant to its use as a biofuel than is emitted by the same volume of fossil fuels (Reijnders, 2006). Human use of oil palms may date as far back as 5,000 years in West Africa. In the late 1800s, archaeologists discovered palm oil in a tomb at Abydos dating back to 3,000 BCE (kiple et al.,2000).

Before now, alkali has been of chief important raw material both for industrial and laboratory purposes.  And can be considered as any base that is soluble in water and forms hydroxide ions or as solution of base in water (Chung, 1997). Alkali as a word was derived from an Arabic word to mean ashes; which could be wood ashes, Ngu ashes or any other type of ashes sourced by burning a given material. The compounds of alkali metals are so soluble that they tend to be leached out of the soil by rainwater and hence carried by streams and rivers to the sea. Based on this, sea water contains about three percent (3%) by weight of alkaline salts (Chung, 1997).

Alkali can be produced both industrially and locally. The local method of alkali production is mainly by the use of oil palm inflorescence or plantain peels. It involves burning of the oil palm inflorescence and subsequently leaching out of the alkali with water. When the leachate is obtained, potassium hydroxide (KOH) is much in quantity than sodium hydroxide (NaOH). About forty-five percent (45%) of alkali is obtained using the female inflorescence. The quality of alkali produced depends on the ashing condition, solvent used, the type of plant ash used, and the method of leaching adopted.

One of the major raw materials for soap production is alkali, which may be a hydroxide or carbonate ions. The cations most commonly used are those of sodium and potassium. Saponification is the process of soap production. At the time of saponification, the alkali denotes metallic ions which form soap with fatty acid. Therefore, soaps are said to be salts of fatty acids (Schumann and Siekmann, 2000).



The production of alkali is mostly carried out in industries or laboratories, where metals like sodium (Na), potassium (K) and other related metals are made to react with water to form their respective hydroxides or alkalis with the effervescence of hydrogen gas. Here, the study provides a local means of sourcing or obtaining alkali by means of burning the empty oil palm fruit bunches (inflorescences) followed by the leaching process.



(i) To identify the local source or raw material used in the production of alkali.

(ii) To establish the suitable and optimal methods of producing high quality alkali locally.

(iii) To identify the suitable oil palm inflorescence used for this study.

(iv) To describe the applications of alkali produced from oil palm inflorescence.


Alkali plays important roles in most of the chemical industries and laboratories, especially in soap production where fatty acid reacts with alkali in a process called saponification to form soap. As a result of this need and many others, this study provides the possible and local methods of producing alkali for industrial, laboratory and domestic uses coupled with the identified agricultural and medicinal applications it renders to the society.



Elaeis guineensis produces two contrasting set of inflorescences, the male and female, which are collectively a complex spadix type of inflorescence. Based on the fact that the female ones produce more qualitative alkali than the male ones, therefore this study exploits the female inflorescence in in the production of alkali for effective and more accurate results.

This study is limited to the information contained in the table of contents of this researched project. Other information outside this context and not related to this study could be considered irrelevant or insignificant.



Alkali Metals: This is defined as groups of chemical elements that form alkaline or basic solution when they react with water. They are found in group one of the periodic table of chemicalelements.

Biofuel: is defined as fuel made from plant or animal sources and used in engines.

Leachate: This is defined as chemicals, minerals, etc. That is obtained by passing water through the substance that contains them. Leachate is to leaching, as filtrate is to filtration, hence they are interchangeably used in this study.

Inflorescence: This is defined as a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch. It is the modified part of the shoot of seed plants where flowers are formed.


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