Anticorrosive oil extracted from cashew shells
Bogotá D. C., jul. 24 de 2012 - Agencia de Noticias UN- What began as a UN Chemical Engineering student’s class work project ended up as an innovative, and beneficial environmental discovery.
After months of hard work, students have extracted anticorrosive oil from cashews, a tree which grows in the Colombian Provinces of Guajira, Cesar and the Island of San Andrés. Jaime Steban Pantoja Moreno, project participant, says that the novelty of the discovery is that they used just the shells, which are usually discarded. “We used the nuts shells, which have the greatest oil content, and have extracted an anticorrosive”, he says.
The students say they used 100% of the nut, as the remainder could also be used as fertilizer for several processes.
The students are proposing to industrialize the project, and perform the extraction manually in order to maximize recovery. According to Pantoja Moreno, this could be a more viable option for many areas of the country where the nut is produced. Currently, during this semester, the students are hoping to find out which attachments will be necessary based on proposed usage.
The students say that after final testing and review that if it’s proven to serve a particular purpose, for example, vehicles, then support from industry will be needed to promote large scale production.
The study was carried out by six undergraduate students over the course of last semester. It was awarded first prize during the Chemical Engineering Research Poster Contest, which took place during the Fifth Chemical Engineer Colloquium held in July.
Cashew nuts are native to Brazil. In Colombia they grow in the Provinces of Magdalena, Meta and Vaupés. Additionally they’re found in the wild in tropical dry forests. It is grown in warm climates with temperatures between 22 and 26ºC.
The first sample of oil was obtained by placing cashews in a press. The remainder of what was left in the seeds was extracted using a special distillation process.
The following step was filtering and assessing the characteristics of the oil. “We cut several iron plates and coated them with the oil. Afterwards, we placed three of the plates into a saline chamber, and left them there for three and a half days in order to evaluate if the oil had anticorrosive properties”, says Pantoja Moreno. The students also placed an untreated iron plate inside the same saline filled chamber.
Finally, they took the plates out, washed them, and discovered that rust had formed only on the oil layer, and the rest of the plate was like new after wiping off the oil residue, while the fourth plate was completely rusted.
“If the process were to be considered industrially feasible, a material which today is considered waste (cashew nut shells) could be used to generate new employment, and cashew production could also be boosted, as they are not currently massively produced in Colombia”, says Pantoja
Normally, corrosion affects metallic structures due to exposure to the elements, resulting in rust. However, in structures like buildings, vehicles or supports, this can be very dangerous, because they corrode and ultimately fail. Any protection provided against this damage which is produced by the elements is very useful”, says Pantoja Moreno.
The students claim that if the oil is mixed with paint, it could add protective value. He also says that the automotive, paint and paper industries (used for book covers) might be the most interested in making use of this particular oil. There’s also the possibility of producing the oil domestically thereby producing savings for the industries which currently import anti-corrosives.
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