Researchers to produce bioethanol from grass, wood and by-products in 5 years

October 12, 2010 11:20 am 

LOS BANOS, LAGUNA, Oct. 11 –- The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) organized recently a group of biotechnologists and chemical engineers to conduct scientific investigations aimed at producing ethanol from third generation biofuel feedstocks.

Dr. Fidel Rey P. Nayve, Jr of UPLB-BIOTECH who leads the group, said the researchers are determined to produce fuel ethanol from lignocellulosic materials readily available in the Philippines like grass, wood and agricultural by-products.

Dr. Nayve said that rice straw, rice hull, sugarcane bagasse, corn stover corn cobs, and even dried wood, cogon and talahib are packed with lignocellulose, which is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin.

She said that lignocellulose can be fermented to produce ethanol fuel, adding that dimethyl ether, another by-product of lignocellulose fermentation, is a promising fuel source for diesel and petroleum engines and even gas-powered turbines.

Dr. Nayve has reported that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCASTRD) has approved a P10 million fund for the UPLB scientists to develop technologies for cellulosic fuel ethanol production.

According to him, there is a good prospect of having a mature technology within the next five to 10 years, and the UPLB-BIOTECH have already in its care several microorganisms that can be used to process grass, wood and agricultural by-products into ethanol.

”It is just a matter of identifying which materials can be suitable for ethanol production and developing and optimizing the organisms’ capability to ferment the materials into ethanol,” Dr. Nayve said.(PNA) V3/FMB

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