PhilRice facility uses nipa to power up towns | Inquirer Business

PhilRice facility uses nipa to power up towns

Bioethanol plant pioneers use of alternative fuel
/ 01:52 AM October 27, 2014

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and its partners in Cagayan province recently launched a bioethanol production facility that uses nipa as raw material to provide rural communities with an alternative source of energy.

PhilRice executive director Eufemio T. Rasco Jr. said in a statement that the facility opened earlier this month in Barangay Cabana, Pampalona town.

Rasco said that the production of bioethanol in Cagayan, which is teeming with nipa, should help meet the local demand for alternative fuel.


“This project with the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) will increase farmers’ competitiveness as nipa is a renewable energy that can fuel farm machinery and pump boats,” Rasco said.


The provincial government is helping implement the project, which is being led by Shirley Agrupis of MMSU. Also on hand to assist is project consultant Fiorello Abenes, a senior Fulbright fellow.

Rasco, himself a pioneer in nipa research, explained that the plant produces an ample amount of sap that can be converted to alcohol—specifically, bioethanol or water-free alcohol.

A hectare of farm planted with nipa can produce as much as 26,000 liters of alcohol a year. This makes nipa four times more productive than sugarcane, which is currently the main source of alcohol, but produces only 6,700 liters per hectare a year.

Rasco said the facility, which was tested through a retrofitted water pump, produced up to 96 percent bioethanol during a ceremonial run last Oct. 7.

Citing data from MMSU’s Nathaniel R. Mateo, who is helping with the project, PhilRice said the facility could produce seven to nine liters of bioethanol from 100 liters of nipa sap in four and a half hours.

Rasco said that the prices of food, especially rice, could rise, along with that of oil, which was what happened in 2007 and 2008.


“That event heightened the importance of developing a new energy system that is renewable, decentralized and diversified,” Rasco said.

He added that nipa would be a good source of bioethanol because it does not compete as a food source, unlike corn, cassava, sorghum or sugarcane.

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“We hope to have this facility in more places in the Philippines and make nipa a widely used fuel by farmers and fisherfolk,” the PhilRice chief said.

TAGS: Business, economy, fuel, News, PhilRice, rice

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