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The National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) has funded a project which developed a model of agricultural waste-based integrated biorefinery.

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NRCP member Michael Francis D. Benjamin led the study, “Development of a P-Graph based Model for Designing Philippine Agricultural Waste-Based Integrated Biorefinery”. Benjamin and team were able to develop sustainable designs, using input-output modelling, of a biomass-based integrated biorefinery or IBR where the country may achieve such eventual benefits.

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During a focus group discussion on the project, Development of a P-Graph based Model for Designing Philippine Agricultural Waste-Based Integrated Biorefinery.

Photo source: Kim Patrick Sangalang, project researcher

An IBR or biorefinery refers to an integrated biomass processing plant or facility that produces several bioenergy products such as bioethanol, biodiesel, biofertilizer, and electricity using raw materials from rice production byproducts. Generally, IBRs decrease carbon emissions by avoiding uncontrolled and open burning of agricultural waste in the countryside, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, decrease the need for raw material as inputs, and produce various low carbon fuels.

The P-graph (process graph) based method is applied to generate optimal and near-optimal IBR configurations utilizing Philippine agricultural waste as feedstock, hence, maximize profitability. The P-graph framework was initially created by the researchers to address process network synthesis (PNS), but they recently extended its use beyond the PNS domain (i.e., integrated systems). The P-graph software also presents the results in a graphical interface, a distinct advantage compared to other optimization techniques.

With the increasing demand and declining supply for fossil fuels globally, NRCP researchers saw the need for alternative fuels that are both renewable and sustainable. Given the estimated amount of biomass derived from agricultural waste or residue in the Philippines which is about 60 Metric ton/year or 400 Petajoule/year of energy, the utilization of bioenergy is essential in order to increase global energy security and mitigate the effects of climate risks via reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Photo source: Google

This study utilized rice straw, rice husk, and rice bran which are proven to contribute to sustainable energy generation in the country. Biomass, a clean energy, can be generated through these residues.

Using these rice production waste, the model was able to show the results for optimal configuration of the IBR and the maximum profit to be generated. Local Government Units (LGUs) can use the results of this NRCP study in creating policies to maximize bioenergy production and increase the revenue generation of farmers.

The results of this study will help in developing strategies to meet energy requirements of a certain locality through the utilization of available agricultural waste. According to researchers, there is likewise a potential for job generation and increased income for farmers resulting from sales of biomass.

This completed project is aligned with the priority area of the Council’s National Integrated Basic Research Agenda (NIBRA) on Clean Energy (i.e., ALERT: Alternative Energy Research Trends).

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