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PIA Press Release

Increased bio-fuel production urged

by Prix D Banzon

Davao City (14 August) -- The country has to increase the volume of production for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol if it will compel all vehicles to use it.

Dr. Johnny T. Batalon, focal person of Crops Biofuels, Coconut and Oil Palm Specialist of the Philippine Council for Agricultural Resources and Research Development (PCARRD) said current production is only at 100,000 liters.

Batalon in an interview during the opening of the Kaniyogan Festival at SM City Davao Event Center on Wednesday, August 13 he said it would need 78 million liters for the year one (from May 6, 2007 to May 6, 2008) implementation of biodiesel and 269 million liters for the bio ethanol when it will be implemented in 2009.

Batalon admitted that there is now a problem with raw materials but he stressed that their advocacy is to support the biodiesel production provided it will not compromise the food production.

He said as far as raw materials is concerned, the coconut which is the source for raw materials for coco methyl ester (CME) is also used by the food group as main component of their product.

In an earlier report the Philippines is the first country to use coconut as a source or feedstock for biodiesel, thus the inception of the government's Coco-Biodiesel Program.

Coco-biodiesel, or Coco-Methyl Ester (CME), is produced from the transesterification of coconut oil, using methyl alcohol in the presence of a catalyst.

This process forces out the unwanted components (such as glycerine) in the oil, which could cause the glumming and clogging of fuel systems and eventually lead to engine failure in the long term.

Blending CME into diesel seeks to reduce importation of petroleum products which will turn into foreign exchange savings for the country.

It said that with the 1 percent biodiesel blend, foreign exchange savings from the country's transport sector alone will amount to about US$23 million in 2007. This figure is expected to increase to US$49 million once the 2 percent biodiesel is implemented two years after.

Batalon said being studied right now as other sources are the palm oil and sorghum although palm oil is also used for the production of vegetable oil.

The palm oil could be a source for biodiesel production while sorghum for bio-ethanol.

The sweet sorghum he said for bio-ethanol to be blend with gasoline is a concept introduced from India.

An initial site of this project is in Ilocos Norte where a groundbreaking will be held on September 6, 2008 in Nueva Ecija for the establishment of a milling and distillery facility.

He said in the economies of scale it would need 2,400 to 3,000 hectares of sweet sorghum to make the production viable of 40,000 liters per day.

There are other feedstock that could be tapped for ethanol like corn and cassava but Batolan said this has to be carefully studied because its production should not compete with food. (PIA) [top]

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