Coconut biodiesel drives the Philippines

biodieselPublic transportation in the Philippines is probably about to get a whole lot cleaner thanks to the country’s staple crop – the coconut. On July 30, the Philippines government launched a 25-day study aimed at raising the amount of coconut biodiesel used in diesel-burning public transportation vehicles. Most of the public buses in the Philippines rely on diesel fuel, and it is hoped that a new coconut-biodiesel blend will reduce carbon emissions, expand the local coconut industry and lower the country’s dependence on imported fuel.

For 25 days, a 5 per cent coconut biodiesel blend will be used in several of Manila’s jeepneys (brightly decorated public buses), and the performance of the fuel and its emissions will be tested extensively. The results of the test will be used to try to convince a national transportation board to immediately enact a regulation requiring all diesel-burning public transportation in the Philippines to use a 5 per cent blend. The Philippines already requires a 2 per cent coconut biodiesel blend for diesel-burning public transportation. Raising the required amount to 5 per cent is expected to bring numerous benefits.

For one, mandating increased use of coconut biodiesel will boost local consumption of coconuts. The Philippines is the world’s largest coconut producer and exporter. Mandating a 5 per cent blend is projected to create over 37,000 jobs for workers in farms, coconut milling plants and biofuel manufacturing companies across the country.

Raising the required blend from 2 to 5 per cent also reduces harmful emissions by a surprising degree. According to Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Euclides Forbes, tests on the 5 per cent blend have shown that “the visible cloud of black smoke consisting of carbon and sulfur particulates is reduced by as much as 80 per cent.” Euclid also said that every liter of regular diesel replaced by coconut biodiesel translates into a carbon dioxide reduction of 3.5 kilogrammes per liter of fuel used.

This will likely be a very welcome development in Manila, where the air pollution in the city’s crowded streets can sometimes be oppressive. This is, of course, also great news for the domestic coconut industry, and a good time to get in on the action.