TO REDUCE environmental and health problems, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) official pushed for the use of alternative fuels in the symposium, “Alternative Fuel for Cleaner Environment and Economic Development” last Feb. 8 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex auditorium.

“Alternative fuels are commonly referred to as substitutes for petroleum-based fuels like diesel and gasoline,” said Engr. Raul Sabularse, deputy director of DOST–Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research Department (PCIERD). “Because they are renewable and biodegradable, these fuels are considered ‘cleaner’ in the sense that they yield substantial energy supply with less impact to the health and environment.”

Sabularse said coconut methyl ester, a diesel alternative known more as coco-biodiesel, can be extracted from copra or plant oil produced through “esterification,” a process where coconut oil is combined with methanol and glycerin to produce methyl ester.

“Compared with conventional diesel, it has higher lubrication, burns cleaner because it is oxygenated, and locks carbon dioxide in a closed circuit,” Sabularse said in the seminar organized by the Chemical Engineering Society. “It can be used in any conventional diesel engine without modification.”

Sabularse added that for gasoline-fed engines, ethanol—produced by fermentation of carbohydrates like sugar, starches, and cellulose, and gasoline additives—could be a high-performance motor fuel that cuts poisonous emissions of hydrocarbons and is better for the environment.

He also stressed that compressed natural gas (CNG), composed mainly of methane although containing small amounts of propane and butane, is still a better substitute to diesel and gasoline. CNG is the cleanest burning alternative fuel. J.dL. Yamzon

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