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MMSU launches "Nipahol" as an alternative sanitizer for frontliners

In the Philippines, the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in the City of Batac in Ilocos Norte is providing an alternative solution to replenish dwindling stocks of disinfectant and sanitizer gels in the midst of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. By distilling the sap of Nipa (Nypa fruticans) into "Nipahol" and diluting it to 70 percent ethanol at a facility housed at the National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (NBERIC) of the MMSU, the ethanol can be used by frontline workers.

On March 20, 2020, Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) President Shirley Agrupis and Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc led the distribution of the first 20 liters of 70 percent ethanol from nipa sap to 21 local government units (LGU) and 30 churches in the Philippine province. This will be used by the health practitioners and frontline workers helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (photo courtesy MMSU).

Also known as the nipa palm or mangrove palm, nipa (Nypa fruticans) is a species of palm native to the coastlines and estuarine habitats of the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the sap can be distilled to produce “Nipahol”.

As reported by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) President Shirley Agrupis and Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc led the distribution of the first 20 liters of 70 percent ethanol from nipa sap to 21 local government units (LGU) and 30 churches in the Philippine province on March 20, 2020.

This will be used by the health practitioners and frontline workers helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Apart from nipa sap, molasses can also be used for alcohol production. Through the “Asukal Mo, Alcohol Mo” programme, the local government units (LGUs) can supply the university with molasses for ethanol production.

We may not supply the alcohol needs of all sectors in the province, but at least this development effort will augment the dwindling supply of the product. In this partnership, when the LGUs supply us with molasses for the production of ethanol, we can also teach them to produce the product using our technology, Shirley Agrupis said.

Hybrid solar distillery unit

One of the facilities at the National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (NBERIC) of MMSU, which can be used in producing ethanol from any sugar, is a fully electric distillery unit powered by Hybrid Solar Technology.

This distillery “can process 150 litres of fermented sugar solution and can produce 12 litres of 95 percent ethanol within four to six hours of operation. The 95 percent ethanol will undergo blending to produce a 70 percent concentration of alcohol.”

According to Agrupis, MMSU is now in close coordination with the provincial government to help in controlling the influx of molasses to the NBERIC laboratory because of the abundant supply. Governor Marcos Manotoc expressed delight in the production of alcohol as he regards that this will help the frontline workers.

We can help our frontliners in the province who do their job to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus, said Governor Marcos Manotoc.

Continuing its research and development efforts, Agrupis assures they will continue producing bioethanol from different sugar sources such as sweet sorghum, sugarcane, coconut sap, and nipa sap.

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