Prospects of Microalgae in the Philippines Discussed in a NAST PHL Roundtable Discussion
The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), through its Engineering Sciences and Technology Division (ESTD) and in partnership with USAID-STRIDE, conducted a Roundtable Discussion (RTD) on the Prospects of Microalgae in the Philippines at Hotel Jen Manila on September 22, 2015.
The RTD focused on the potential of microalgae to become an alternative source of energy or biofuel and for other industrial applications such as aquaculture feeds, algae-derived plastics, fertilizers, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and pharmaceuticals, among others.
Dr. Joel L. Cuello, an expert on sustainable biological and agricultural systems engineering from the University of Arizona and a De La Salle University (DLSU) USAID-STRIDE visiting professor, explained the connection of the falling of oil price and the future of microalgae as biofuel feedstock. According to him, the price of biofuel from microalgae, which is $24 per gallon, cannot compete in the global market today. He suggested a path venture for future investors that is multi-product and multi-market business model for microalgae to become economically-feasible. Microalgae biochemical factory for various high-value chemicals remains largely untapped.
He further discussed that the main concern with microalgae’s mass production is the contamination of open raceways due to the uncontrolled environment. He enumerated different technological advancements on the use of bioreactors to help industries maximize revenue and cut cost in microalgae production.
Academician Alvin B. Culaba, member of NAST PHL and professor of mechanical engineering at DLSU, discussed the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based framework in microalgae studies. This helps researchers identify problems in using algae as a biofuel feedstock. As part of post-harvesting process, Acd. Culaba together with the DLSU Microalgae Research Team, identified dewatering or drying as a crucial part of converting algal biomass to biofuels since this constitutes about 20% to 30% of the total production. Several researches about drying technology and the molecular dynamics to extract water were carried out to address this problem.
NAST, the primary PH Science advisory body, calls for multi-sectoral action to address lifestyle diseases
The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) called the attention of various sectors to take action in addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or commonly known as lifestyle diseases. These diseases include heart and respiratory diseases, cancers, and diabetes.
Data from the World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease (WHO GBD) 2010 show that 309,000 Filipinos die annually from NCDs.
NAST PHL held the 37th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) focusing on “The Challenges of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs): Responding through Multisectoral Action”. The ASM brought together the government (Senate and Congress), the science community, and all sectors, toinvolve them in the prevention and control of NCDs. The ASM steering committee came up with resolutions, which resulted from the recommendations of the pre-ASM roundtable discussion.
Outstanding Scientists and Publications Lauded during the NAST 37th Annual Scientific Meeting
Mandated to recognize outstanding achievements in science and technology and to serve as a reservoir of competent scientific and technological manpower for the country, the National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines (NAST PHL) recognized distinguished Filipino scientists and outstanding publications during NAST’s 37th Annual Scientific Meeting on July 8-9, 2015.
Five new Academicians were sworn in and joined the roster of NAST Members. They are: Ceferino P. Maala, Ph.D. (Veterinary Medicine), Jurgenne H. Primavera, Ph.D. (Marine Science), Estrella F. Alabastro, Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering), Fortunato B. Sevilla III, Ph.D. (Instrumentation and Analytical Science), and Edward H.M. Wang, M.D. (Orthopaedics).
Awards presented included the following: Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS), The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) for the Advancement of Science in Developing Countries Prize for Young Scientists in the Philippines, NAST Environmental Science Award, NAST Talent Search for Young Scientists, Outstanding Books and Monographs, Outstanding Scientific Papers, and Best Scientific Posters.
The Outstanding Young Scientists award is given to young Filipino scientists (must not be 41 years old within January to December in the year of the award) who have made significant contributions to science and technology. For 2015, seven (7) honorees were named OYS awardees: Dennis V. Umali, Ph.D. (Veterinary Science), Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo, Ph.D. (Entomology), Joey D. Ocon, M.Sc. (Chemical Engineering), Rex Ferdinand M. Traifalgar, Ph.D. (Fisheries Science), Enrico C. Paringit, Dr. of Engineering, Allan Patrick G. Macabeo, Ph.D. (Organic Chemistry), Clarissa C. David, Ph.D. (Communication).
The TWAS Prize for Young Scientist in the Philippines is an award given to outstanding young Filipino scientist by the Academy (NAST) and TWAS in the field of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, or Physics. He or she must not be 41 years old during the year of the award. . For 2015, Allan Patrick G. Macabeo, Dr. Nat. Sci. (Organic Chemistry) was the recipient of the said award.