VSU’s renewable energy initiatives boost by Balik Scientist

News, Science and Technology

For years, the Visayas State University (VSU) has been pursuing research activities on climate change resiliency. When the University embarked in a bamboo production project for sustainable shelters, VSU decided to tap the expertise of a Balik Scientist for bamboo processing.

Dr. Rico O. Cruz is part of the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). He is an expert in agricultural and biosystems engineering, renewable energy, and environmental management. He has 30 years of experience in the development, production, utilization, and evaluation of renewable energy resources. He is also part of Idaho State University’s pioneering team that developed and advocated the use of biodiesel globally.

Aside from bamboo processing, Dr. Cruz has been working on other VSU programs under the Renewable Energy Center that will showcase various environment-friendly technologies. These include solid biomass for biochar and synthetic gas, mini/micro hydro, wind, and wave/current power system.

(Left photo) Protos stove uses the produced biodiesel from the used cooking oil. (Right photo) A burning test shows that biodiesel (bottom) did not produce smoke compared with regular diesel. (Image credit: IDD, PCAARRD)

Dr. Cruz’s advocacy in renewable energy is seen through his personal car, which he customized for biodiesel instead of regular gasoline.

Under the BSP engagement, Dr. Cruz demonstrated how biodiesel can be produced from used cooking oil. Eventually, this will provide cheaper and ecologically- benign fuel to VSU’s utility vehicles such as “VSU Tuyok or Ikot” and standby generator for engineering research activities.

Dr. Cruz noted that biodiesel has long been introduced to the university and his engagement serves to push the university to restart biodiesel production and maximize the use of existing facilities for sustainable renewable energy. This initiative will also help revive coconut-related activities and augment the price of coconut meat.

Dr. Cruz’s beetle, which runs on biodiesel since 2004 (Image credit: Dr. Rico O. Cruz)

Dr. Cruz hopes that through BSP, he can showcase various renewable energy initiatives that he has been practicing for the past 30 years for the benefit of the locals of Region VIII.

BSP is being implemented by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) together with DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), which covers Balik Scientists in the health industry and the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) for BSP engagements in the Industry, Energy, Emerging Technology, and Special Concerns. (EZG, Philippine Press Club, Inc. (PPCI))

PHOTO: Dr. Cruz demonstrates how biodiesel can be produced using catalyst and used cooking oil. (Image credit: Institution Development Division (IDD), PCAARRD)

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