PhilRice Engr. Alexis T. Belonio (4th from left) and Dr. Manuel Jose C. Regalado (5th from left) receive the grand prize in the AMY IP Awards from Senator Vicente Sotto III (2nd from R), IPOPHL Director-General Atty. Josephine R. Santiago (1st from R), PCCI President Ma. Alegria Sibal-Limjoco (3rd from L), and San Miguel Corp. Chairman Ramon S. Ang (2nd from L).

Crude bioethanol distiller that is powered by rice husk was acclaimed grand prize winner during the recent Alfredo M. Yao Intellectual Property Awards (AMY IP Awards) held at the Manila Hotel.

Invented by engineers at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the machine uses rice husk as alternative fuel to produce crude bioethanol (lambanog or vodka) from fermented feedstock.

Engr. Alexis Belonio, PhilRice senior research fellow and main inventor, said “lambanog can be further distilled, through a secondary distiller, into hydrous bioethanol (HBE), a fuel-grade alcohol with 90-95% concentration.”

The team earlier developed a fuel-feeding device, which can be retrofitted to a farm power tiller gasoline engine, enabling it to use HBE as a biofuel alternative to gasoline.

“Our invention is environmentally-friendly as rice husk is abundant and readily available. We used it as an alternative fuel as the traditional distiller needs wood to fuel the processing of fermented nipa sap into alcohol,” said Dr. Manuel Jose Regalado, one of the inventors.

He added that burned or carbonized rice husk (biochar) can also be used as biofertilizer and soil enhancing amendments to improve crop yields.

The distiller has the capacity to produce 5,280 l per year of crude bioethanol with production cost of P18.40/L. If lambanog is sold at P35-40/l, the machine could give an 8.5% return of investment.

He added that a local government unit from Camarines Sur had partnered with PhilRice to produce nine units of the machine for the province’s lambanog production and one unit of HBE distiller to produce fuel-grade ethanol.

“Our machine is also gender-neutral due to its simplicity and ease of operation,” Regalado said.

The team further hopes that the award will pave the way for the machine’s promotion specifically in CALABARZON and Bicol Region, where lambanog and nipa vodka production is prevalent.

Based on the award’s criteria, the distiller was chosen due to its uniqueness and originality, readiness for commercialization, environmental and social impact, and inventors’ presentation.

Katherine Villota, Phoebe Castillo, and former PhilRice Executive Director Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco joined Belonio and Regalado in the awards  under the Professional Category given by The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), in cooperation with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL). The engineers received a trophy and P75,000 cash prize.

The AMY IP Award is given to “Filipino-owned intellectual properties that have contributed or have the potential to contribute to economic development.” It also aims to provide opportunities for IPs to be presented to potential investors for the products’ commercialization.

For more information about the machine, please contact PhilRice Rice Engineering and Mechanization Division through 63 (44) 456-0277 local 650.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute