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Clean Cooking

Village-scale “Nipahol” tech poised for clean cookstoves

Village-scale “Nipahol” tech poised for clean cookstoves
The Philippine Government Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Balik Scientist Dr Fiorello Abenes (right) discusses the cooking stove prototype (left) he developed that is powered by energy innovations from nipa sap. This technology is seen as an alternative to LPG stoves (photos courtesy DOST).

In the Philippines, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) - Balik Scientist hosted by the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Laoag, Ilocos Norte is set to provide clean cooking fuel alternatives to Filipino homes – Village-Scale Nipahol Technology (VSNT).

Dr Fiorello B. Abenes, a Professor Emeritus at CalPoly Pomona University in California (CA), United States (US) and a DOST-Balik Scientist hosted by MMSU leads the technology transfer and commercialization of MMSU’s Village-Scale Nipahol Technology (VSNT).

Nipahol Technology may also be used as cooking fuel and is seen to replace Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) stoves.

Dirty cooking is still a problem in many of the rural areas of the Philippines. The use of firewood or charcoal emits unhealthy levels of particulates and noxious gases that affect the respiratory tract, mostly affecting women. Ethanol as cooking fuel is cleaner. We have developed a prototype that we hope we can scale up and make into a cooking stove suitable for indoor use and commercial establishments, said Dr Fiorello B. Abenes.

Widespread coastal resource

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 ethanol.

Dubbed “Nipahol” nipa sap is distilled at a facility housed at the National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (NBERIC) of the MMSU.

Technologies from Nipa are seen to provide a multitude of uses, given its commercial viability in different portions of the value chain.

Although the stove prototype is yet to be developed as pressurized, Dr Abenes and his team at MMSU successfully created a Nipahol-fueled stove with a burner that functions through the pull of gravity.

The successful adoption of MMSU’s VSNT rests on finding more uses for the ethanol produced from nipa, and the use of Nipahol as cooking fuel will accelerate the commercialization of the VSNT technology.

Program to stimulate Filipino R&D

This innovation was made possible under the Balik Scientist Program which aims to promote information exchange and accelerate the flow of new technology into the country by strengthening the scientific and technological resources of the academe and public and private institutions.

The program, which was launched with the enactment of the Balik Scientist Act in June 2018, encourages Filipino scientists, technologists, and experts to return to the Philippines and share their expertise to promote scientific, agro-industrial, and economic development, including the development of the country’s human capital in science, technology, and innovation.

The program enables the DOST to grant returning Filipino scientists competitive benefits such as daily subsistence allowance, health insurance, and roundtrip airfare.

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