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Ghana to produce vital water chemical

Ghana can now produce potassium permanganate, a chemical used in the treatment of water.

It is being produced from waste cocoa pods and manganese dioxide obtained from manganese ore which also abounds in Ghana.
Potassium permanganate is used in the treatment of water for consumption, industrial waste water for domestic use and the removal of iron from underground water such as wells.

The chemical can also be used in chemical laboratories, pharmaceutical industries and the textile and tanning industries.

The discovery, made by Prof. Francis Acquah, a lecturer at the Chemistry Department of the University of Cape Coast, was announced at a press conference.

Addressing the press Prof. Acquah was emphatic, “the local production of potassium permanganate will generate new business ventures and employment opportunities on cocoa farms and rake in additional incomes in post-harvest activities.”

The chemical is made by burning cocoa pods into ash and mixing it with slakes lime to change it into hydroxide. The hydroxide then goes through a number of processes after which the manganese dioxide is added to turn it into potassium permanganate.

‘’The invocative process which uses cocoa pod waste as raw material buttresses the quest for zero pollution in agricultural and industrial production, waste utilisation as raw materials for  economic ventures and effective waste management,’’ he stated.

“Ghana,” he said, “has a comparative advantage with the use of cocoa pod waste in addition to the various manganese dioxide deposits across the nation, and listed the Western, Central, Ashanti and the Upper West Regions as areas that have the deposits of the manganese ore.

The production of the chemical locally, he said, will save the nation, the foreign exchange used in purchasing chemicals such as alum for water purification by the Ghana Water Company Limited.

Prof. Acquah called for partnership with the private sector to ensure its production on a large scale and emphasised the need for tax breaks to enable the private sector to enter into such partnerships.

Prof. Acquah noted that in the United States of America, for instance, 70 to 75 per cent of potassium permanganate is used in water and waste water treatment alone, adding, “China and USA are the predominant world producers, accounting for about 80 per cent of world production and total consumption of about 50 per cent,’’ he added.

The Dean of the School of Physical Sciences of the UCC, Prof. Samuel Yeboah Mensah, in his remarks, appealed to the government to assist in the production of the chemical in commercial quantities.

Prof. Acquah was the Head of Chemical Engineering Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) from 1975 to 1979.

He was appointed to Minister for Youth in Rural Development under the Limann administration from 1979 to 1981.

He became the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology from 1984 to 1989 and was the brain behind the Industry and Technology Fair (INDUTECH). He joined the university of Cape Coast in 2006.

Contacted for a reaction to the news, the Ghana Water Company Limited said assistance to Prof. Acquah to produce the chemical on commercial quantities will depend on its quality.

“We need a guarantee that he can produce the quality and quantity we require before any commitment can be made,’’ Ebenezer Gambrah, Head of Planning and Development told the Times yesterday.

Though he confirmed that the company uses the chemical at some of its treatment plants, he was unable to tell the quantity used annually.

Depending on the quality of the raw water at the plant, he said, the company uses potassium permanganate to treat it for human consumption.

The Communications Manager of Acqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL), Stanley Martym said, the company will benefit immensely if the chemical will be produced in commercial quantities locally.

The company procures all its chemicals through tender and “most of the companies are foreign,” he said.

However, now that the chemical can be produced locally, he said, AVRL may save some money in foreign exchange and even the cost of the product as well as the delivery time since it will be produce locally.

Source: Ghanaian Times

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