T. Motsamai et al I National University of Lesotho
The interest in small-scale manufacturing of simple products seems to be growing in Lesotho. However, this could have undesirable effects without insights into the chemical processes involved in such presumed simple processes. This manuscript reports the partnership between the National University of Lesotho and a small-scale manufacturer in the preparation and characterisation of a simple pine oil-based detergent, popularly known as Pine Gel, as a response to calls for relevant and responsive research by the higher education sector. This project reduced the input cost by about 31% on raw materials, and an overall profit margin improvement of 11% through the net production line. This was achieved through the reduction of pine oil, the most expensive component in the whole process, and its replacement with 3.5% of “Reagent X” (identity withheld for commercial purposes). The modified detergent was characterised for efficiency employing the critical micelle concentration (CMC) technique showing a CMC of 0.0683 g/cm3 – a superiority of about 29% over the commercially available parent product (CMC of 0.0953 g/cm3). The new formulation has already been commissioned to the manufacturer. These results demonstrate the importance of the much touted partnerships between academia and private sector in economic development of a country.