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Sugar maker’s breakthrough facility gets power from biomass gas

A sugar company in Negros Oriental now boasts a breakthrough renewable energy facility that further harnesses gas produced from biomass to produce electricity.

Called the Fluidized Bed Gasification (FBG) system, it was unveiled by the Raw Brown Sugar Milling Company (RBSMC) in its muscovado sugar production facilities in Pamplona, Negros Oriental.

It was funded with a P990,000 grant from the Department of Science and Technology–Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST–TDI).

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Prototype carbonizer (painted red) is shown in foreground. Behind it is the gasification component (fluidized bed gasifier). (Photo by RBSMCI1) | Manila Bulletin

In the FBG system, the Philippines’ first such facility, agricultural wastes are burned upon introduction of a limited amount of oxygen, producing carbon dioxide and energy.

This drives a second reaction—the gasification stage—wherein waste materials are further converted into hydrogen and additional carbon dioxide.

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Ceremonial ribbon cutting: DOST 7 RD Edilberto L. Paradela (center) assisted by RBSMCI President Atty. Alejandro Florian O. Alcantara (extreme right) and Mr. Edward Lee (business associate). Behind Atty. Alcantara is Engr. Apollo Bawagan, Energy Section Head of the ITDI Chemicals and Energy Division. (Photo by RBSMCI1) | Manila Bulletin

“I see several advantages to powering our turbines with synthetic gas produced by ITDI’s FBG System. These are 100 percent reduction of our agricultural wastes, production of our monthly electricity requirement at no cost, and significant reduction of gaseous pollutants due to the near-zero combustion process of the FBG System,” said Atty. Alejandro Florian O. Alcantara, president and CEO of RBSMC.

Aside from its significant reuse of waste as energy, Alcantara expects the FBG system to provide around 40 percent of the company’s total electricity requirement, helping bring down electricity costs.

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The fluidized bed gasifier up close. (Photo by RBSMCI1) | Manila Bulletin

Annually, the RBSMC produces nearly 1,100 tons of pure, whole and unrefined muscavado sugar, which is produced from fresh sugarcane juice without using bleaching agents.

Engineer Apollo Victor Bawagan of DOST–ITDI finds the gasification of biomass such as sugarcane bagasse and sugarcane trash “most interesting” because the produced synthetic gas has a near-zero combustion.

Bawagan led the DOST–ITDI team that modified the biomass carbonizer technology for sugarcane bagasse to support the setting up of the a co-generation facility at the plant.