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Dawn of Ethanol in the Philippines

Nov 9, 2007

Ethyl Alcohol, or Ethanol

The biochemical conversion process is fermentation: the breaking down of organic matter by organisms. In addition, fermentation is an effective way of creating alcohol for transport fuel. In Brazil the Proalcool programme is the most established fermentation-based transport fuel supply system, providing 60 per cent of the country’s automotive fuel requirement (12 billion litres of ethanol a year). This, on the face of it, ideal process generates a by-product (stillage), which was initially dumped in rivers but has subsequently, as a result of environmental concerns, been found to be an acceptable fuel for the generation of biogas.

In the 1970s, Brazil began a programme to produce ethanol (ethyl alcohol) from sugar cane. By 1983, with the use of massive subsidies, about 90 per cent of Brazilian cars were designed to be fuelled by alcohol. Unfortunately the project has proved to be expensive, because ethanol cannot compete with petrol. The main benefit is that the use of ethanol-powered vehicles has reduced levels of air pollution in Brazil’s cities. In 1996, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that fossil fuels would still provide almost 90 per cent of energy needs by 2010. Thereafter, modern renewable sources could become increasingly important, provided that additional expenditure on research and development is available. None of the proposed sources of renewable energy are completely satisfactory. However, with all the problems of pollution associated with fossil fuels, the search for economic forms of alternative energy has become a matter of urgency. / Excerpt

Source: Encarta Premium Suite
Arranged by: RLT Jardiolin, BVFO

Dawn of Ethanol in the Philippines

There is growing renewed interest in Ethyl Alcohol, or Ethanol Production. This has been brought about by:

• Global concerns for cleaner air and renewable sources of energy that has resulted to passages of laws regarding Clean Air and the use of Biofuels.

• Incentives granted by First World countries and by International communities towards promoting global cleaner air.

• Increased cost of fossil fuels especially in oil importing countries.

There is also renewed focus at sugarcane agriculture, sugar being one of the raw materials for Ethanol: 1. Molasses, a by-product in cane sugar production, is processed to Ethanol. 2. Sugarcane will be milled and directly processed to Ethanol – the most practical option.

Sugarcane, a perennial cultivar that is adoptive to the tropics @ 120 metric tons per hectare per season, is the world’s biggest source of sugar. While many countries would like to cultivate sugarcane, climatic conditions limit them to short-term crops like corn @ 8 metric tons per hectare per harvest, for ethanol production.

In the Philippines, Cassava is also used as raw material in marginal production of ethanol. Almost every Filipino farmer, as augmenter to staples that are rice and corn, cultivates it. Large-scale cultivation of Cassava as cash crop, however, has never gained popularity with farmers for economic reason. It cannot compete with other crops in terms of cost-income.

Another suggested plantain, which was introduced in the 80s, and is being re-introduced lately for bio-fuel (diesel) production, is Jatropha Curcas, a variety of Casla tree. Projected at 5 metric tons of raw material per hectare per year at best, and looking at its cash fall for farmers, the promotion is apparently dead before it could hit fertile grounds.

The Philippines has a long way to go in both sugarcane and ethanol productions. While 100 TC/Ha and more is easily attainable by well-funded growers, micro and small sugarcane farmers that make up a great number can only produce 30 – 50 TC/Ha, bringing the country’s average to 60 TC/Ha by one estimate. Aside from that, we have plenty of agricultural lands that have remained idle particularly in southern Negros Island. [Bayawan valley’s best is around average 80 TC/Ha @ 1.90 PSTC, dry season milling, BISCOM miller.]

Gasohol is locally known as Alcogas and has been experimented with by motorists as early as the 70s. Government, in passing a law that advances the use of biofuel, is opening up a new era, not only for farmers but also for the entire Filipino nation. We are in the dawn of Ethanol.

One Response

  1. Something that looked beautiful a decade ago has fizzled down. Another stale idea for Filipinos.

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