Copper sulfate, also known as copper (ii) tetraoxosulphate (iv) salt is a chemical compound with the formula CuSO4. Copper sulphate is a very important chemical having a broad spectrum of applications. In the metal and electrical industry, copper sulfate is the most preferred electrolyte for refining, electro-plating, and also used in the development of batteries.
The agricultural industry accounts for more than half of the copper sulfate consumption globally. In the agro industry copper sulfate is primarily used as herbicide, fungicide and pesticide. It is also used as a raw material for the production of chromated copper arsenate which is widely used in the production of wood preservatives where it provides wood with insecticidal, fungicidal and UV light reflecting characteristics.
Another major application of copper sulfate is as an analytical reagent. It is also used for the preparation of several other reagents such as Fehling’s solution, Benedict’s solution and Biuret reagent to test for proteins.
In an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP, a chartered chemist, the chief executive officer of Jola Global Industries Limited, Dr. Moses Omojola, explained that copper sulphate is used on a large scale across the globe in view of the multiplicity of its application and industrial uses, saying the demand for the chemical was increasing on annual basis as a result of this.
He said the worldwide market for copper sulfate pentahydrate was expected to grow at a CAGR of roughly 2.3 per cent over the next five years and would reach $1150 million in 2024 from $1000 million in 2019.
On his part, the director-general of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) said the copper sulfate requirement is mostly met through importation despite its wide application across various industries in Nigeria.
He highlighted copper sulfate is widely used in the building industry, schools as laboratory reagent, in the agricultural sector for increased agricultural production and productivity in the country, adding in view of the high level of building going on in the country, Nigeria expended more than N7 billion to import wood preservatives for use in the building and construction industry in 2018.
“Chromated copper arsenate preservatives can easily be compounded locally if the major ingredients, most especially copper sulphate is available. Also, the importation of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides for use in the agricultural sector of Nigeria is high and increasing on annual basis. One of the reasons for this trend is decreasing number of years lands are now allowed to lie fallow as a result of increasing population density.
“Thus, to maintain a high level of land productivity, adequate production inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides must be applied. This annually increases the import statistics as evidenced by increasing expenditure of foreign exchange on agro inputs.
“Also, the expenditure on importation of chemicals and reagents for educational purposes in secondary schools and tertiary institutions in Nigeria is enormous. Copper sulfate pentahydrate is one of the major chemicals required in secondary schools, universities, research institutes for diverse tests and experiments,” he said.
He further said the importation of laboratory chemicals and reagents into the country in 2018 was in excess of N20 billion, adding this necessitated the need to put in place necessary measures to facilitate local production of some of these chemicals, most especially copper sulfate in view of its diverse applications.
The RMRDC boss pointed out that the council, on the strength of this, facilitated and successfully completed a pilot plant for the production of copper sulphate from copper scraps generated from industrial activities which has a capacity of 1000kg per day and could provide employment for over 80 workers.
“So far, the pilot plant had been test-run and the products tested. The council plans to ensure the proliferation of the technology for interested entrepreneurs. The pilot plant which is a reactor can also be used to produce reagents such as iron (II) tetraoxosulphate (iv) salt and FeS04..
“Sequel to the above, the council in collaboration with National Research Institute of Chemical Technology is working towards scaling up the project by increasing the capacity of the plant to 5 tonnes per day for commercialization purposes,” he added.
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