Xavier University wins grant to study cassava ethanol potential

By Erin Voegele | October 30, 2012

The Philippine Department of Energy has granted Xavier University PHP3.3 million ($80,000) to research the possibility of producing cassava ethanol. According to information released by the university, the project aims to evaluate the potential of several cassava varieties in Northern Mindanao for the development of a pilot-scale facility.

According to Philippine DOE Undersecretary Jose Layug, one of the priorities of his department is to promote alternative fuels. “We are very hopeful that the testing will yield positive results,” he said in a press release. “This will be a game changer for Mindanao.” The area is one of the major cassava producing regions in the Philippines.

Information published to the Philippine DOE website notes that the nation has set the goal to replace 20 percent of its gasoline usage with ethanol by 2030, resulting in a the displacement of 1.34 billion liters (354 million gallons) of petroleum-based fuel. According to the department, 169 million gallons of gasoline are being displaced through current ethanol blend levels.

A report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service earlier this year provides an overview of the country’s ethanol industry, as well as its future outlook. The Global Agricultural Information Network report noted that although there is a 10 percent ethanol mandate in place in the Philippines, compliance has been problematic. This is attributed to an inadequate capacity of existing sugarcane distilleries.

The GAIN report also specified that current ethanol production within the Philippines is focused on sugarcane and molasses feedstocks. The country is currently home to eight ethanol plants, representing a combined capacity of 245 million liters.