U.S. helping Philippines develop coconut biodiesel
The U.S. Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), along with the U.S. Agency for International Development, have teamed up with the Philippine Department of Energy to conduct experiments intended to validate and expand upon existing coconut-to-biodiesel research.
The partnership between the two countries began in 1996 and gained momentum after U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and Philippine Secretary of Energy Vince Perez signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2004. The memorandum is designed to promote the use of cleaner burning fuels in the Asian nation.
Coconut-derived biodiesel is produced domestically in the Philippines, one of the main reasons the nation is trying to promote its use.
"The main interest in the Philippines for biodiesel is energy security at this point," said Teresa Alleman, an NREL engineer and one of the coordinators of the project. "The industry is starting with coconut biodiesel and hoping to expand."
The Philippines is the first nation to produce and use coconut-derived biodiesel. Today, it is used mainly in government vehicles, but officials hope the renewable fuel will become popular with the public soon.
Alleman said the goal of the research is, in part, to educate the Philippine public and boost consumer acceptance. "They're hoping to jumpstart biodiesel use on a widespread scale in the Philippines," she added.
At present, the research is still in the beginning stages. "We are hoping to start some of our fuel quality studies in the following months," said Alleman. She said that NREL hopes to have initial study results published by early 2005.