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Friday, December 9, 2011

Jatropha a failure

Pilot testing of jathropa’s viability as an alternative fuel sources should have been conducted before going into large-scale production, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) affirms.

This is the reaction of DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo to news reports quoting Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rene Almendras as saying that the past administration wasted money and resources in planting thousands of hectares of land with jathropa to produce raw materials for bio-fuels.

Thorough testing on a pilot scale should have included planting and harvesting, production of jathropa oil, and then converting and blending to become bio-fuels, something that the previous administration failed to do, Montejo said.

The DOST in a recently-concluded pilot production and testing of biofuel from jathropa has proven the technical feasibility of producing jatrhopa oil and converting it to methyl ester. Methyl esters or fats from animal and vegetable, were found to be suitable as blend for diesel fuel in previous scientific studies.

However, technical feasibility is sometimes different from commercial viability because it involves other issues.” explained Secretary Montejo.

“The proper scientific protocol in programs involving new technologies such as this is to conduct first a pilot-test and a thorough evaluation of its results to prove its viability before rolling it out,” Montejo said.

At present, the DOST is not keen on further studies on the processing of jathropa but would still complete the review and evaluation of past data and results. Ester Z. Gallardo, PSciJourn Mega Manila

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