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The Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 took effect at the turn of the new millennium "to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accordance with the rhythm and harmony of nature and to promote and protect the global environment in order to attain sustainable development" . Following this, the Philippines passed Republic Act 9367 or Biofuels Act of 2006. The latter law was legislated to develop and utilize renewable energy, to mitigate toxic and greenhouse gas effects, to decrease the country’s dependence on imported fuel and to increase rural employment and income. It mandated the incorporation of 1% biodiesel in diesel and 5% bioethanol in gasoline by 2009. The Philippines thus became the first country in Asia to legislate and mandate the use of biofuels.

Without any assurance of any local or export markets , Chemrez broke ground in October 2003 for the construction of a continuous methyl ester plant using technology from Germany’s Lurgi Lifesciences . The plant was completed and inaugurated on May 3, 2006 by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte; Mr. Rafael Lotilla, Secretary of the Department of Energy and Congressman Luis Villafuerte, one of the principal authors of the Philippine Biofuels Law .(Refer to attached picture, Figure 1).

In February 2007, Chemrez started producing high quality coco-biodiesel under the brand name BioActiv® supplying a significant portion of the Phlippines’ requirements for coco-biodiesel . BioActiv® surpassed the quality standards of the US Biodiesel Standard ASTM D6751, the European Biodiesel Standard EN 14214; and the Philippine Biodiesel Standard, PNS 2020:2003.

On the fourth year of the Philippines’ Biofuels Act of 2006, the country has demonstrated progress with biofuels, expanded usage and made significant strides in implementing this law.

Figure 1. Inauguration of the BioActiv® Plant by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo In 2006
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In 2007, Mr. Raphael Lotilla , the Philippine’s Energy Secretary indicated that the government hopes to decrease the amount of fossil fuels imported into the Philippines by at least US$ 165 million annually. It encouraged the employment of regenerable agricultural crops like coconut and sugarcane to provide inexhaustible energy supplies like coco-biodiesel or bioethanol in contrast to fossil oil which is an exhaustible resource

This also provided an answer to the coconut industry’s plea for help and support as it was on the verge of collapse at the turn of the new millennium. . For survival, coconut farmers even resorted to selling coco-lumber thereby destroying many coconut plantations. Many coconut oil mills consequently shut down and government agonized on what to do with unsold coconut oil production amounting to 10,000 MT per month.

The Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 and the Biofuels Act of 2006 came at the right time, as if to answer the industry’s plight by providing opportunities to those who are dependent on coconut industry . The importance of this law could be surmised from the consolidation of bills filed in the Philippine Congress .The House of Representatives passed House Bill 4629, as authored by Congressman Luis R. Villafuerte mandating the use of fatty acid methylester (FAME) such as coco-biodiesel and a companion bill filed by Congressman Juan Miguel Zubiri on the use of sugar cane based bioethanol as biofuels.

The Senate for its part approved Senate Bill No. 2226 which applied to both coco methyl ester from coconut and bioethanol from sugarcane sponsored by Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Edgardo J. Angara, Ralph G. Recto , Richard J. Gordon, Pia S. Cayetano and Mar Roxas. The differing versions of the House and Senate Bills were threshed out by a Bicameral Conference Committee giving birth to Republic Act 9367.

With foresight and conviction to develop renewable fuel from an indigenous resource, Chemrez Technologies, Inc. funded the extensive research work to develop a high quality coco-biodiesel as a “ sustainable alternative to fossil oil” and provide a source of “renewable energy”. Without any assurance of any local or export markets , Chemrez broke ground in Oct. 2003 for the construction of a trans-esterification plant employing technology from Germany’s Lurgi Lifesciences with capability to add value and develop specialty coco based products such as new generation “ green surfactants”.

Chemrez came up with a high quality coco-biodiesel under the brand name BioActiv ® which surpassed the quality standards of a high quality Tier 3 diesel, the US Biodiesel Standard ASTM D6751, the European Biodiesel Standard EN 14214, the Philippine Biodiesel Standard, PNS 2020:2003, the Worldwide Fuel Charter specification for Diesel Fuel and many more.

The Chemrez plant was finally completed and inaugurated by President Arroyo in May of 2006. By January 2007, the BioFuels Act ( R.A. 6397) was signed into law without any opposition from both the lower and upper houses of congress. The law mandated a 1% blend of biodiesel with diesel fuel otherwise known as “B1” from 2007 to 2009 and 2% blend or “B2” from 2009 and beyond .

The Philippine brands of coco-biodiesel are certified by the Department of Energy according to the Philippine National Standard for Coconut Methyl Ester (CME) published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Quality is verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratrory (NREL) through a collaboration between the US Department of Energy and the Philippines’ Department of Energy.

The Chamber of Automobile Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc.(CAMPI) has declared that a B1 blend is perfectly safe and acceptable for all diesel vehicles. Much of the research data obtained by Chemrez from reputable research institutes abroad were passed on to the Department of Energy to support their coco-biodiesel development in compliance with the Philippine government’s instructions in November 2003.

By the time the mandate was signed, Chemrez’ BioActiv ® was well in market production. Customers from major petroleum manufacturers and blenders like Shell, Petron, Total, Chevron , among others , have witnessed “ The 10 point magic of BioActiv ®“ when blended with diesel fuel in any ratio to enhance engine performance as indicated below:

1. BioActiv ® contains 11% oxygen and thus promotes complete combustion. Diesel is therefore more efficiently combusted and burns cleaner with BioActiv ®.

2. BioActiv ®contains high percentage of methyl laureate ( not present in other plant-based biodiesel) the source of its superb solvency and detergency. Thus, it declogs injectors, cleanses fuel lines and combustion chamber, and restores fuel spray and atomization efficiency.

3. BioActiv ® has high lubricity feature. It ensures efficient functioning of moving parts and its inherent feature for “boundary” lubrication prevents wear and tear that prolongs engine life.

4. BioActiv ® has cetane number of 70. Fossil diesel has 55 or less while other biodiesel have 60 or less. It promotes acceleration response and clean emission.

5. BioActiv ® has viscosity of 2.6 cst versus viscosity of fossil diesel at 3.5 cst. It reduces the viscosity of regular diesel making it more responsive to modern CRDI diesel engines which need lighter viscosity diesel fuel.

6. BioActiv ® has a T90 of less than 320oC . It further ensures complete combustion and provides smoke free emissions, cutting air pollution. A one (1) percent blend of BioActiv ® in diesel can result in eighty percent reduction in smoke emission levels.

7. Compared to other plant-based biodiesel which elevates NOx emission, BioActiv in contrast reduces NOx emission in internal combustion.

8. Compared to other biodiesels which have oxidation stability of less than 6 hours, the oxidation stability of BioActiv ® at >12 hrs surpasses the minimum of 10 hrs requirement of Japan Automotive Manufacturers Association (JAMA)

9. BioActiv ® has a wide range of carbon chain profile that is nearly the same as US Diesel No. 1. Other plant-based biodiesels have narrow range of carbon chain. Thus as diesel fuel, BioActiv ® is a perfect natural diesel that meets the ultra low sulfur quality specs of European Tier 4 Standard for diesel fuel.

10. BioActiv ® is biodegradable and very environment friendly. A Totally Green Fuel with no sulfur content.

In terms of addressing air pollution, a 2% blend of BioActiv ® reduces Particulate Matter (PM) by over 80% while other pollutants NOx, SOx, CO, are reduced by over 50%. In addressing global warming, each liter of BioActiv ® used in place of fossil diesel reduces CO2 emission by approximately 3 kg on life-cycle basis.

After more than four years of Bio-Activ ® usage, petroleum companies have seen the benefits of incorporating biodiesel in diesel. As Mr. Florendo Galindo of Asian Institute of Petroleum Studies (AIPSI) AIPSI has indicated ; “There are a number of corollary benefits arising from the incorporation of BioActiv ® in diesel . Even the smell of exhaust odor of petroleum has been transformed into a pleasant one. It also has no carcinogenic compounds like benzene, paraffin, oxides of nitrogen or sulfur which are found in fossil oils. It enables the optimization of fuel pump and injector efficiency .It results in better ignition, acceleration and performance translating to mileage increases without the need for changes/modifications of or additions in engine parts."

The oil companies have been extensively supported in their choice of BioActiv ® with efficient delivery of materials in bulk with the right standards and impeccable logistical support . The annual capacity of coco-biodiesel which commenced operation in 2006 at 60 million liters has been increased to 90 million liters to service the needs of the customers with resources to further expand its capacity if required by the market .

Figure 2 . Chemrez’ BioActiv® Plant 
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Concomitantly, Chemrez Technologies Inc has also expanded its logistics support delivery capabilities , resources and staff, hand-in-hand with acquisition of QC and applications equipment and apparatus to further upgrade R&D’s Quality Control and analytical capabilities.

Figure. 3 Chemrez’ BioActiv® Delivery Truck 
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CONTRIBUTED BY:

RAUL A.C. OBACH
Consultant, Chemrez Technologies Inc.
65 Industria St., Bagumbayan, Quezon City
Metro Manila, Philippines 1110