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Ethanol Importation in Nigeria; The Opportunities.

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, ETOH) is a clear, colorless liquid with a characteristic, agreeable odor. In dilute aqueous solution, it has a somewhat sweet flavor, but in more concentrated solutions it has a burning taste. Ethanol, CH3CH2OH, is an alcohol, a group of chemical compounds whose molecules contain a hydroxyl group, -OH, bonded to a carbon atom.

The word alcohol derives from Arabic al-kuhul, which denotes a fine powder of antimony produced by distilling antimony and used as an eye makeup. Alcohol originally referred to any fine powder, but medieval alchemists later applied the term to the refined products of distillation, and this led to the current usage.

Ethyl alcohol or ethanol can either be produced by direct fermentation of cassava, corn, cane juice or from molasses (any agricultural product that has starch contents), which is a by-product of the sugar manufacturing process. In Nigeria, ethanol can be produced only from cassava whereas, in india molasses is used and mills in Brazil produce ethanol directly from sugarcane juice. Ethanol can be used for potable alcohol industry, chemical industry and as a bio-fuel in vehicles (direct/blended with gasoline).

In Nigeria, ethanol is consumed primarily by portable alcohol industry and chemical industries.

Nigeria currently spends N 160 billion annually to import ethanol for industrial use while local production only accounts for 3% of ethanol consumption in the country.

With a population of over 165 million people and an estimated national population growth rate of 5.7% per annum, an average economic growth rate of 3.5% per annum in the past five (5) years, Nigeria has a large market for ethanol.

Some of the major consumers of ethanol in Nigeria includes

1) Alcoholic / Beverages Industries: In the production of The many products of various gin, brandy, whisky, wine, etc
2) Cosmetics Production: For the production of perfumes, dyes, after-shave lotions, etc.
3) Paint Industries: Paint makers consume a lot of ethanol during the production of certain paints and thinners.
4) Pharmaceutical Industries: Pharmaceutical Industries use ethanol in the production of some drugs

The domestic demand for ethanol is estimated at over four hundred (400,000,000) million litres annually while local production is about nine – ten (9,000,000 – 10,000,000) litres per annum.

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