By Paul Anthony A. Isla

COCO Methyl Ester (CME) manufacturer Chemrez Inc. is positioning itself as an exporter of coco-biodiesel to countries mandating the use of such alternative fuel, according to Dean A. Lao, Jr., the company chief operating officer, on Wednesday.

Lao made this announcement during the launching of its second plant, adding these countries at present on quite a few but large enough markets-France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands.

Australia and China are still discussing whether to require the use of such alternative fuel. In the US, it seems there will be no federal mandate but it would be the states that would decide whether to require alternative fuel use in their territories.
Apart from coconut oil, Lao said that biodiesel could also be derived from palm, rapeseed, and soy beans. And in terms of price, rapeseed is the most expensive source followed by coconut. “And people are looking for the cheapest replacement for diesel. However, what we’re trying to do is to sell the premium qualities of coco biodiesel. And since we’re trying to fetch a higher price, the negotiation takes a bit longer and requires a lot of technical validation or backing.”
He conceded they or the industry itself could not just claim that coco-biodiesel performs much better than biodiesels based on other plants. “We use the data we gathered from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US-Department of Energy, which states that coco-biodiesel is much better than other sources of biodiesel” in explaining our product to customers.

Earlier tests by the American renewable energy lab had revealed that coco-biodiesel consistently yielded comparable with, or even better results than, crude oil-based fuel. He added other tests also showed that CME-based fuels meet existing Philippine National Standards for diesel fuel quality.
Lao also said that CME scored better in terms of cetane number, flash point, and sulfur content compared to diesel. This means CME burns more completely, resulting in more power, better engine performance, cleaner engines, longer mileage and lower emissions.

It’s because of these qualities of coco-biodiesel that Lao said they are trying to create a premium for coco-biodiesel. He noted, however, it would take a country like Germany or Japan, which are committed to renewable energy sources, to appreciate the difference.

Lao said a German company is already helping Chemrez in searching out the European market but added that as soon as the Philippines mandates the use of coco-biodiesel, then Chemrez would give priority to the domestic market.
Chemrez’s new and second bio-diesel plant, which is considered the biggest and most modern coco-biodiesel facility in Asia, represents an additional 60 million liters of coco-biodiesel production per year for the company.
The Department of Energy (DOE) said the inauguration of this bio-diesel plant is a major boost to the government’s Energy Independence Agenda that outlines the roadmap for the attainment of a 60-percent energy self-sufficiency by 2010. Chemrez is one of the 3 DOE-accredited coco-biodiesel manufacturers.
The three producers would have a 110 million-liter capacity when the new plant goes on stream this week. Of the 110 million liters, 25 million liters are put out by Senbel Corp. and 10 million liters produced by RI Chemicals.
Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla welcomed the Chemrez investment saying that “one of our sustainable and long-term solutions to the rising oil prices has now come into fruition. . .The inauguration of this bio-diesel plant comes on the heels of soaring oil prices. The use of CME or coco-biodiesel as an alternative transport fuel will reduce reliance on imported oil thus more foreign exchange savings for our country.”

Automotive diesel users could also expect savings from biodiesel because of the inherent oxygen-content in coco-biodiesel promotes better combustion in the engine translating to an increase in mileage by as much as 10 percent from a minimum 1 percent coco-biodiesel blend in diesel fuel.

The DOE is working with Congress for the passage of the bio-fuels bill, which seeks to mandate the use of biodiesel and bioethanol as fuel additives to diesel and gasoline, respectively.
“With the inauguration and soon, the commissioning of this first dedicated biodiesel plant in the country and in Asia, we Filipinos can truly say that our country can harness indigenous renewable energy to break away from dependence on imported oil,” said Lotilla.