2nd Anniversary of Biofuels Law
The energy sector marked the second anniversary of the passage of the 2006 Biofuels Act (Republic Act 9367) yesterday with a nationwide expansion in the mandate and distribution of gasoline with 10% bioethanol blend (E10) for motor vehicles.
Department of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes hailed this development as a boost to the economy and big step toward increasing energy independence and reducing carbon emissions.
"The Bioethanol Program is designed to reduce the country's dependence on costly imported fuel and to assist in creating a new domestic fuel industry," he said. "The production and use of bioethanol can indirectly serve a variety of needs. On a national level, bioethanol can improve balance of payments by displacing imported petroleum with domestically produced fuel. This may also provide increased rural employment and alternative markets for agricultural commodities."
RA 9367 mandates the blending of biodiesel and bioethanol in diesel and gasoline fuels, respectively, in all fueling stations nationwide. The law also institutionalizes incentives and other benefits for investments.
The Bioethanol Program was launched on a voluntary basis in May 2005. Starting yesterday, it became mandatory for oil companies to have a total of 5% of their total sales coming from ethanol. This would result in the displacement of some 208 million liters of gasoline.
Chevron, Eastern Petroleum Corporation, Flying V, Petron, PTT, Shell, Seaoil, Total, and Unioil affirmed their commitment to this provision of the Biofuels Law. By expanding the production and marketing of E10, the oil firms are fulfilling the terms of this commitment.
The oil companies gave the assurance that their respective E10 brands all meet the Philippine National Standards (PNS). E10 will be offered across all ratings, such as E10 Octane 93 or E10 Octane 95.
According to the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) and the Philippine Automotive Federation, Inc. (PAFI), E10 can be used to power all fuel-injected engines, particularly in vehicles manufactured after 1999. Among the car brands that have endorsed the use of E10 are Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PGA Cars (importers of Audi and Porsche), Suzuki, Toyota, and Volvo.
Reyes urged the motoring public to switch to E10. "E10 improves the combustion efficiency of gasoline because of the oxygenates that are inherent to bioethanol," he said. This will translate to better performance, reduced carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbon emissions which, in most cases, would improve fuel economy."
He also cited immense benefits to the environment, accruing from wider use of E10. Aside from being biodegradable, bioethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions because it burns more efficiently, thus significantly reducing unburned carbons.
According to the DOE, blending serves two purposes: (1) it extends gasoline supplies, and (2) as an octane enhancer, it replaces metallic-based additives. Bioethanol has a cleansing effect that removes rust and other unwanted contaminants that may have accumulated in the tank and fuel system over the years.
Consequently, E10 is known to provide high octane rating at low cost as an alternative to harmful fuel additives. E10 has the added advantage of high volumetric efficiency; it burns cooler than straight gasoline, helping to keep valves cool and thus contributing to increased power.
CAMPI and PAFI advised owners of older-model cars to consult accredited service shops if they want to fill up with E10.
Bioethanol was one of the first fuels used in automobile engines. It was used extensively in Germany during World War II and also in Brazil, the Philippines, and the United States. During the postwar period, as petroleum supplies became cheap and abundant, gasoline largely replaced bioethanol as an automotive fuel. In the 1970s, when the supply of oil was restricted, bioethanol re-emerged as an alternative to or extender for petroleum-based liquid fuels.