Fuel pellets made from biomass were among scientific advancements presented during a recent media presentation for sustainable food security held at the SEARCA (Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture) center at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB).
Menandro Acda, faculty member at the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR) of UPLB, who was the research leader of the fuel pellet program, said biomass energy should be used by more Filipino households.
"Enhancing and utilizing biomass energy should reach the household level use because of its social and economic impact that could help many Filipinos in the future. Alternative biofuel sources can be utilize because these are more economic and environmentally friendly compare to common non-renewable energies we are familiar to use with," he said.
Many Filipino households still use wood for cooking especially in the rural areas. And the use of charcoal can harm the environment because trees have to be cut down.
It was Acda who launched the fuel pellets from biomass program, where wood wastes from sawdust shavings or wood residues, trimmings from old furniture woods, and rice straw and husks were the raw materials used to manufacture the fuel pellets.
Other sources for fuel pellets include sugarcane bagasse, corn stover and cobs, and coconut shell and husks.
The process of pelletization includes mixing of wood residues, milling, drying and pelleting. The fuel pellets has high density and calorific value, is cost effective for transportation and storage, and has low emissions. It can be used for both residential and industrial heating applications, and was found to have a sustained flaming combustion during heat production at greater than 500 degree Celsius unit.
Dr. Acda and his team also published a study entitled "Opportunities and Barriers to Wood Pellet Trade in the Philippines" to determine the current perception of market players on the commercialization of fuel pellets from wood in the country.
The study showed problems involved in the commercialization of wood pellets in the country include unreliable biomass feedstock supply, high cost of investment and competition from fossil fuels.