Village-type bioethanol facility opens in Batac City

BATAC CITY, Ilocos Norte, Sept. 28 (PNA) — Ilocos farmers and its neighboring provinces are looking forward to the successful commissioning of a village-type bioethanol facility, courtesy of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) and its partner agencies such as the Department of Energy, Department of Science and Technology and the United States Agency for Development (USAID) through its Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program.

Envisioned to be easily deployed and adopted by local communities, Dr. Shirley Agrupis, in her capacity as project principal investigator of the MMSU, said the bioethanol facility that uses multi-feedstock such as nipa sap, sweet sorghum and sugar cane, which are all abundant in this northern Philippines.

Located at the back of the Crop Research Laboratory of the MMSU Batac campus, the 150-liter bioethanol facility was formally launched on Monday, attended by farmers’ organizations, local chief executives and other stakeholders including representatives from the USAID-STRIDE.

With the backing of the House of Representatives, tasked to craft quality legislation, Agrupis hopes the technology producing hydrous ethanol will be considered at the national level to benefit local farmers who will be integrated in the biofuel industry.

For four years of from 2008 to 2012, Agrupis said her research team started on a zero budget until they got support from the DOE and DOST and later on from the USAID STRIDE under the Collaborative Applied Research with Industry (CARWIN) grant.

To spur inclusive economic growth in the country, Dr. David Hall, Chief of Party of STRIDE said the US government have been funding Philippine government universities such as the MMSU to improve science and technology research. Of the five projects funded by the USAID-STRIDE pegged at USD32 million, MMSU’s research and development proposal entitled “Pilot Deployment and Research and Development of a Multi-Feedstock Village-Scale Modularized Kit for Bioethanol Production” was included.

“We are really pleased with the bioethanol facility here. The next stage is to take from what really is a prototype stage to rolling it out and spreading widely across the Philippines, encouraging the supply of feedstock such as raw Nipa and help suppliers. The output which we buy ethanol can be used as an addition to gasoline which improves cost of gasoline,” Hall said as he expressed optimism that this project would certainly generate more profit and jobs for local suppliers in the region.

As of this posting, MMSU in collaboration with industry players and the USAID are looking forward to expanding research and innovation on the use of other raw materials as alternative for biofuel and probably boost energy self-sufficiency in the country.(PNA)