Monday, March 27, 2006

Hope renewed for Philippine biofuels industry

COULD the country’s political combatants pause for a moment and move quickly to consolidate the bills promoting biofuels in the country?

If there’s one urgent measure the legislators need to address soon (besides the long-delayed budget which the House took all of four months to produce and now wants to toss to the Senate in the, to borrow basketball lingo, “the last three minutes”), it’s this one. Widespread use of biofuels in the Philippine context would mean converting coconut oil into biodiesel and sugar or corn into ethanol, a move that could reduce poverty in the countryside. Corn and coconuts are among the major crops tilled by poor farmers.

But the greater relevance of the bill is our own modest contribution to the global efforts to address climate change. The stakes here are no less than the survival of this planet, its flora and fauna, and most of all, the fate of the human race. It is no idle advocacy of some rich, western-trained kid, as what some right-wing champions of unbridled oil exploration have for years painted those Greenpeace activists. This is a direction not to be taken because it’s a fad; it simply is the only way to go, and the sooner we realize it and do something decisive about it, the better our chances of averting a very real risk.

The April 3 issue of TIME Magazine highlights this point. The bad news, it reports, is that “climate disruptions are feeding off one another in accelerating spirals of destruction.” The signs are getting clearer: the melting of the polar ice caps that leads to the rising waters and floods in low-lying areas, more lands devastated by drought in some parts of the world, and the greater threat of diseases that could affect millions. And recently, the impact of global warming are manifested in such violent disasters such as the Category 5 Cyclone Larry (with 290 km an hour wind burst) that devastated some parts of northeastern Australia, the drought induced-blazes in Indonesia, and Typhoon Katrina and destroyed a larges swathe of built up areas in New Orleans. In short, what appeared to be Hollywood hype for the “Day After Tomorrow” movie has dawned upon us with a suddenness no one thought possible. Will the Philippines, which has always been ranked among the top five most disaster-prone areas in the world, be the next major calamity area? It’s possible.

According to the Ethanol Alliance, an organization composed of Sugar Regulatory Administration, the Center for Alcohol Research and Development, Sugar Master Plan Foundation, Petron, and the Philippine Sugar Millers Association and which is pushing for a national ethanol program, biofuels are important for these reasons: they are simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, essentially free of sulfur and aromatics, and don’t contribute to global warming. They can be used in compression- and spark ignition engines without any major modifications.

What is exciting about biofuels is that, because of rising prices of fossil fuels, they have become an economically viable business worldwide. On the supply side, Brazil has shown the world that ethanol is no longer hype. In fact, analysts are now looking at Brazil as the “next Saudi of alternative fuels.” Thailand is also speeding up its own ethanol production; and surely the Philippines could also do it, given the enthusiasm of the private sector to pursue our own biofuels program.

In biodiesel, Chemrez, Inc., a Filipino company, is already exporting biodiesel to Japan, Australia, and the United States and will soon inaugurate the biggest biodiesel production plant in Asia. That’s good news for the country’s coconut industry.

And on the demand side, the markets for biofuels are unlimited both in the domestic and the global markets. In fact, most countries in the world today from Asia to the US and Europe have their own program to shift or partially replace fossil fuels with biofuels to reduce import bills, meet their greenhouse gas-emission-reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol, improve people’s health, and promote a cleaner environment. If the country could produce enough volume to meet local and global needs, biofuels might yet be the silver bullet that could reduce poverty in the countryside.

In fairness, government, especially the Department of Energy is really working hard on the issue, together with the private sector. At DOE’s recommendations, for instance, the government has already reduced tariffs for environmentally friendly car parts, apparently to encourage the production of vehicles with hybrid, flex-fuel, or natural gas fed engines. Early this year, Shell has issued a statement that it will soon start blending its gasoline with ethanol while Flying V has actually started selling pre-blended biodiesel at its fuel stations.

What is only lacking now therefore is the passage the proposed biofuels bill that will provide the framework for implementation of a comprehensive biodiesels program nationwide. The proposed bill also contains provision mandating all the oil companies to sell preblended biodiesel and ethanol. Right now, biodiesel are being sold as an additive or fuel enhancer in separate bottles making it relatively expensive. Once, the oil companies start preblending, the cost of biodiesel will significantly go down as producers of coconut methyl esther will be selling said intermediate input in bulk. Preblending therefore will be the fastest way to ensure wider use from consumers, thus ensuring the viability of the biofuels industry.


Anonymous said...


Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
President of the Republic of the Philippines

For the Attention of: The Tri-Medium

Dear Madame President,

Greetings with Peace & Joy!

The undersigned have bunch of
questions than answers about the Philippines’ Coconut Dieselization or popularly known as Coco Bio
diesel Program. Who got technically “electrocuted” by this Bio-diesel Program? Is it the Government, the Project Proponent, the Automotive Industry or the would-be uninformed end-users? Is this not a simple-case of “It’s not a question of lies and truth, but how we make people believed --- to gain credibility and retain a position?
Is Coconut Methyl Esterification (CME) process is the better methodology in the production of diesel fuel oil substitute? Is CME is a fuel enhancer or suited as 100% (one-on-one) substitute for petrol-diesel? Whatever the process or methodology adopted in the invention of bio-diesel, do we have our “Very Own” product standards so to speak, for the real protection of end-users in the application of the product? We, Filipinos are well known to “photocopy” foreign standards and technologies. Foreign technology could not be applicable to other countries, while there’s nothing wrong in “carbon-copying” product standards, the questions are: Have we “copycat” foreign standards correctly? Was it properly copied in consonance to the raw materials, of ASTM with soya, corn, rapeseed or palm as their materials, while we use coconut based, for the standard could function in a tropical country like ours? Most of all, having stated in the protection of product end-users, is the so called Philippine National Standards (PNS) for bio-diesel permissible in the market innovation? Does PNS-2020:2003 pass through legislation, before a product can be considered and officially be certified by the Department of Energy? If not, why this very PNS-2020:2003 (Coconut Methyl Ester B100 Specification) is used already as the basis in the issuance of certificate to branded bio-diesel products?

The undersigned is just very amused, the way the proponents of the Coconut Methyl Etherification Program of the government, come-up with there official results and turn out to be dubious and have contradicting claims of the technology on Coconut Bio Dieselization. The most important question of all, does the money spent to this project gainfully profits the Filipino people? (sic) Utilization of Coconut Methyl Ester (CME) as Petroleum Diesel Fuel (PDF) Quality Enhancer Pilot R&D Project for the DA/PCA Vehicles … Total Budget: P4,698,739.00 (sic). Department of Agriculture Bureau of Agricultural Research, September 13, 2002

Layman could easily understand that different oil-seeds as raw materials have a diverse physico-chemical characteristics and specific use. According to former Energy Undersecretary Eduardo Mañalac, now is the President of PNOC. “The US bio fuel uses soybean, not coconut, but coconut fuel has passed two decades of tests to prove that it virtually cleans engines and all polluting byproducts expelled by motor vehicles. ..…He said the DOE is negotiating to “pre-mix” coco fuel in processed diesel but these talks have been hampered with “technical issues”. …..He said the only potential drawback is that a coco fuel generates abnormally high heat that burns all carbon monoxide emission, as well the rubber gasket cushioning most diesel-fed engines. If you go beyond 10-percent or 20-percent use, it will not be good for the vehicle. You cannot use 100 percent (B100) of coco fuel in the engine, he said.” Thursday, March 11, 2004 @10:12 PM GMT – 12-Baguio testing use of coconut fuel Ecology. In another related published report (sic) A seven-member Philippine delegation led by a Department of Energy (DOE) official left recently for the US to pursue discussions on intensive research and development of coco-biodiesel. …The development of coco-biodiesel is considered a major breakthrough for the Philippines, being the first country to tap coconut oil to fire motors. In most countries, bio-diesel is a mixture of diesel fuel and ester derived either from corn, soya, rapeseed or palm. (sic) Balitang Malacañang:Archive June 10, 2004. Was there a fruitful outcome from this so-called “intensive” technology-educational trip?

In another published report – “Three big oil firms to adopt coco-diesel technology”. (sic) The country’s top oil firms – Caltex, Petron, and Shell will put up pumps for the bio-fuel coconut methyl ester (CME), once it is proven to have comparable oxidation stability as a petroleum fuel.

….They are willing to use the technology as soon as we are able to come up with studies on oxidation stability. With regard to direction, the Department of Energy (DOE) believes that we should not relying on fossil fuel so there’s a possibility that the technology use will be accelerated, a Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) official disclosed.(sic) Dateline 12/22/2004
(Marked This) On the subject: Standardization of Petrol-Fuel Oils, Philippine Trade Standard Specification, the general requirement stipulates – “The fuel oil specified herein shall be hydrocarbon oils free from INORGANIC ACIDS and FOREIGN MATTER.”

The physical characteristics of coconut oil, contains medium or long-chain fatty-acids (FFA). However, according to government researchers, “Coconut methyl ester (CME) is an ester derivative of coconut oil with C8 to C18 carbon chain. It has lubricity, solvency and detergency characteristics and can be used as pure petroleum diesel fuel (PDF) substitute…” from the –Use of bio-diesel in the Philippines by DOST, ITDI, PCA, NPC, PNOC-ERDF. My humble questions are: Since when fatty-acids (C4 to C22:1) become a carbon-chain? Are lubricity (viscose) and solvency (solvent) are not in contradicting characteristics here? These amusing and believe to be a carbon-chain is also prominently stipulated in the Biodiesel and Petro-Diesel Comparison on the hand-outs of the Philippine Coconut Authority. “Fuel Composition: Petrol-Diesel C10 -C21 HC and Bio-diesel C6 - C18 “. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, September 2001. The question is, since when a petrol-diesel have a fatty-acids? Fatty-acids are not Hydrocarbons.

The Department of energy had already issued a certificate of compliance to branded commercial coco-diesel products. However, it’s being sold as diesel enhancer (B1), having passed the so-called Philippine National Standards on Coconut Methyl Ester (B100) Specification, PNS 2020:2003, and the actual standards references for “Chemical and Physical Requirements Coconut Methyl Ester is from ASTM PS-121. Are these not confusing technology standards? While it maybe true that there’s no perfect technology, but expertise is precise, concise and most of all --- ACCURATE! The science of physico-chemical would dictate, different quotient, would have different consequences.

One obvious reason that makes PNS-2020:2003 a dubious standard, it has a conflicting “Chemical and Physical Characteristic Requirements”. The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) had different standards. While the commercial products that was granted with a certification by the DOE, have another standard specifications and application, the same application as mandated by Presidential Memorandum Circular 55 as (B1). And PNS-2020:2003 have a different Chemical and Physical Requirements otherwise. When in fact the title of the Product Standard alone (B100), contradicts to the adopted standard requirements for its application, as (B20), as a diesel fuel enhancer (DFE), is this not a misnomer? And worst of all, this so-called PNS-2020: 2003 was already used as an official product standard in extending certification to branded coco-diesel products in the market, without the benefit of legislation. Is this not a “mal-feasance”?
In the standards of PCA and Branded Coco-Diesel Product, they have a similar Physical Characteristic Requirement on Lubricity (BOCLE) and Oxygen which PNS-2020:2003 does not have. According to Bio-diesel and other Chemicals from Vegetable Oils and Animal Fats – March 5, 2004 (sic) Scuffing Ball on Cylinder Lubricity Evaluator (BOCLE) found that bio-diesel blends at levels below 5% had essentially no effect on lubricity. In a recent City of Montreal field study transit buses using bio-diesel blends did not result in improved fuel consumption.
....Other performance factors, such as engine power should also be studied to determine whether there are any downside issues to using bio-diesel esters as an additive. There is no ASTM standard for lubricity, although the industry is close to adopting one. The society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has developed a standard using the High Frequency Reciprocating Rig test.(sic) Reported by Howell, S. and Schumacher, L. Bio-diesel Lubricity
In this specific case of
“lubricity”, the letter-writer adopted the Four Ball Wear Test (FBWT), for Engine, Crankcase Motor Oil Catalytic Additive and Doubly Stroke (2-ST) Motor Oil. However, most of all, I don’t adopt the methodology of Coconut Methyl Esterification (CME) for obvious reason --- it’s a misnomer to come-up with an alternative energy that the same would contain petrol-base (methanol) and acidic Sodium/ Potassium Hydroxide reactors, that could lead to corrosion.

Quoting an excerpt in one of a research paper of DOST, “….Besides higher NOx levels, aldehydes are reported to present problems with neat vegetable oils. Total aldehydes increased dramatically with vegetable oils and
formaldehyde formation was consistently higher than with DF. It was also reported that component triglycerides (TGs) in vegetable oil can lead to formation of aromatics via acrolein (CH2=CH-CHO) from the glycerin moity.” – Bio-diesel as an alternative fuel leading to cleaner environment.

In as much I wanted to tackle more on the physico-chemical and other technical related matters, I do hope our scientists-researchers from our government and collaborating agencies could make review of their research-work in order not to confused and mislead the public and most of all, to the end-users of the product --- coco-diesel enhancer. So we could truly energize the country without also bewildering foreign would-be consumers of our Philippine made energy products. Thus energy is an invisible universal-government so to speak.

In closing, I shall reiterate what was insinuated, I am not a chemist, nor an economist. I am merely innovating what others have invented to be beneficial to our country. I foresee no quarrel with Certified Engineers, Scientists, Economists and Chemical Companies for I am sure that they are in the same direction --- to put technology in rightful and lawful chronological orders, and to be self-reliance on renewable vegetative source of energy that will benefit both our coconut and up-coming palm industries.

We must be a leader not a follower in vegetable energization!

Truly yours, Signed

Anonymous said...

Mr Medel,

Biodiesel is NOT vegetable oil. It is derived from vegetable oil and does not contain the glycerol moeity that causes aromatic and aldehyde formation. Although NOx emission is relatively higher compared to conventional diesel fuel. Using the appropriate additive on biodiesel, we can easily solve this problem.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...


The Philippines Bio-Fuel Act

An Act to direct the use of Bio-fuels, 13th Congress, Hose Bill No. 1347 of 2006

SECTION 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Biofuels Act of 1 2006.”

SEC. 3. Definition of Terms.
As used in this Act, the following terms shall be taken to mean as follows:

d) Biodiesel – shall refer to Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) or mono-alkyl esters
derived from vegetable oils or animal fats and other biomass-derived oils that
shall be technically proven and approved by the DOE for use in diesel
engines, with quality specifications in accordance with the Philippine National
Standards (PNS);

e) Bioethanol Fuel – shall refer to hydrous or anhydrous bioethanol
suitably denatured for use as motor fuel, with quality specifications in
accordance with the PNS;

Therefore, BIO-DIESEL is made thru Esterification, otherwise known as Coconut Methy Esterification (CME).

Bio-fuels could be misleading notions in terms of finding/formulating a “genuine”
bio, eco and/or environment-friendly fuel -- possibly a renewable source of an
energy. It’s a misnomer indeed to come-up with an alternative energy that the
same would contain inorganic petrol-base (methanol & ethanol) and acidic/toxic
Sodium/ Potassium Hydroxide Catalytic Reactants, that could lead to corrosion
and damage on engine parts. This is not to mention the contamination of (layers)
underground soils.

Bio-diesel is just for mixture at 5%-20% to petro-diesel. If it goes beyond 10-percent
or 20-percent use, it will not be good for the vehicle. “We cannot use 100 percent
(B100) of coco fuel in the engine” according to Usec. Eduardo Mañalac, former Usec.,
of the Department of Energy, now is the President of PNOC.” Thursday, March 11,
2004 @10:12 PM GMT – 12-Baguio testing use of coconut fuel Ecology.

Bio-ethanol is just a mixture of 10% ethanol & 90% petro-gasoline. It would not be
good also for the engine if the mixture would go beyond 35% because it will eat-up
the rubber and plastic parts of the engine, thus increases the engine temperature.

Petroleum Based Fuel Adulteration?

On the product Standardization of Petrol-Fuel Oils, International TradeStandard Specification, the general requirement stipulates – “The fuel oil specified herein shall be hydrocarbon oils FREE from INORGANIC ACIDS and FOREIGN MATTER.”

Are Methanol, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ester, Potassium/Sodium Hydroxides are
not inorganic -- Foreign Matters?

ERGO! this is a very very clear ADULTERATION of petrol-fuel under ASTM Standards!


In organic chemistry, transesterification is the process of exchanging the alkoxy group of an ester compound by another alcohol. These
reactions are often catalyzed by the addition of an acid or base.

Rancidification is the decomposition of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis and/or oxidation. Hydrolysis will split fatty acid chains away from the glycerol backbone in glycerides. These free fatty acids can then undergo further auto-oxidation.Oxidation primarily occurs with unsaturated fats by a free radical-mediated process.

Redox (Redirected from Oxidation)
Redox reactions include all chemical processes in which atoms have their oxidation number (oxidation state) changed.

This can be a simple redox process, such as the oxidation of carbon to yield carbon
dioxide, it could be the reduction of carbon by hydrogen to yield methane (CH4), or
a complex process such as the oxidation of sugar in the human body, through a
series of very complex electron transfer processes.

The term redox comes from the two concepts of reduction and oxidation. It can be explained in simple terms:

Oxidation describes the loss of an electron by a molecule, atom or ion.

Reduction describes the gain of an electron by a molecule, atom or ion.

Combustion of hydrocarbons, e.g. in an internal combustion engine, produces water, carbon dioxide, some partially oxidized forms such as carbon monoxide and heat energy. Complete oxidation of materials containing carbon produces carbon dioxide.

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Please feel free visiting above website, so you would know the comparison between Esterified Bio-diesel and the simple Enkonized Fuel that is the real substitute to petrol-base fuels --- NOT AS AN ADDITIVE.