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Romblon set to become `cocodiesel country'
The Philippine STAR (18 Jul 2004)

ROMBLON, PHILIPPINES: Romblon is well on its way to becoming known as "cocodiesel country."

It is now at a stage of assessing the best site for a coconut methyl ester (CME) plant in the island province.

Also soon to be studied is the possibility of putting up a solar-powered plant to serve the CME facility's electrical needs.

CME is a diesel substitute derived from coconut oil. It is produced using transesterification, a process that involves the reaction of coconut oil and other triglycerides (vegetable/animal oil) with ethanol under high temperature and using catalysts to produce alcohol or ester and glycerol.

A group led by Science and Technology Secretary Estrella F.Alabastro visited Romblon recently to assess the progress of the CME project. Among those in the group were Undersecretary Florentino Tesoro, Executive Director Graciano Yumul Jr. of the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development (PCIERD), DOST-Region 4 Director Hipolito Aycardo, and members of the media.

The visitors were briefed by new Romblon Gov. Perpetuo Ylagan. While yet a congressmen, Ylagan allocated P2 million from his Project Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and personally followed up the project's preparatory phase.

With DOST-Region 4's assistance, all the necessary studies have been made to determine the feasibility (technical, economic, social, and physical) of setting up a CME plant in the coconut—producing and exporting province to utilize coconut methyl ester as a substitute for diesel fuel for transport.

The people of Romblon island of Tablas "was able to create awareness and social acceptability of the CME technology," PCIERD reported.

Another study showed that CME, as a diesel substitute, "is beneficial in an island-based economy like Romblon where coconuts abound and the price of diesel fuel is high." Romblon is the fourth highest coconut-producing province in the CALABARZON and MIMAROPA regions.

The CME technology, said PCIERD, "is ready for transfer and commercialization."

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