EXTRACTION OF WAX FROM COCOA POD. A RESEARCH PROJECT TOPIC ON CHEMICAL ENGINEERING
The word wax describes a large variety of substances of plant and animal origin, as well as man made products which are mostly petroleum derivatives.
However, natural waxes are not single substances, but a mixture of various of long-chain fatty acids and a variety of other constituents, depending on their origin.
Each wax therefore has unique physical and chemical characteristics which are exploited in a multitude of applications.
The increasing important of raw materials together with the complexity of modern technology for their production, processing, collection, distribution, quality control, marketing, utilization and extractions hould not be overemphasized.
For the course of study, which is extraction of wax from cocoa pod, it is vital to understand the physical properties, compositions and characteristics of waxes so that maximum efficiency will be achieved while carrying out the practical.
The characterization of waxes for industrial or domestic use is physic-chemical rather than structural. Although all waxes, possess the same characteristic physical properties of feel, consistency, melting point and water disability. It physical characteristic of water insolubility, made it good for use in coatings of paper, wood, textiles, metal fruits and vegetables; to protect against moisture, chemical and mechanical damage to food packaging. For the fact that it serves as an ingredient in diverse materials, its uses has increased over the years with industrialization. It is obvious that wax has so many functions and uses than other material. For this reason many investigations ahs been carried out into the production of wax from vegetable, plants such as grass sugar-cane cotton orange, jojobus feed, palm leaf, cocoa pod etc.
Initially all quantity of products made of wax being consumed in Nigeria were mainly from oversea countries. At this time of economic diversification, there is need for us to embark upon our locally made raw material. For this reason plants which are available in the country are being research on as source of producing wax and this helps us to make use of our local raw material which had been left out and neglected.
It is because of this that the work in question has been indicated, with the purpose of finding locally available source of producing wax as that contained in cocoa pod. For this work, comparisons were made with the yield of wax produced from cocoa pod with that of other similar vegetable plants. Also comparison were made with the physical properties of wax from cocoap pod and other waxes. The properties compared are moisture content, melting point, characterization point and refractive index.
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