DOST exploring use of waste as energy source

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2022 10:04 PM

DOST Sec. Renato Solidum Jr. House of Representatives
DOST Sec. Renato Solidum Jr. speaks during the hearing on the P24.06-billion proposed budget for his agency for next year at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Sept. 7, 2023. Photo supplied by the Press and Public Affairs Bureau of the House of Representatives

MANILA - The Department of Science and Technology is exploring the use of waste to generate energy, according to Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. on Wednesday.

A pilot facility is set up in Los Baños, Laguna, and the DOST is studying the right temperature for waste combustion to prevent emission of air pollutants, Solidum said.

"When you talk about waste to energy, you need to have ample supply of waste to burn or to incinerate. Isa pa lang ang ating napopondohan," Solidum told the House Committee on Appropriations deliberating on DOST’s proposed 2023 budget.

"This needs to have a very good waste management system at the local level. Maganda po ‘yan sa cities. Sa rural areas, hindi ‘yan uubra," he said.

The DOST is also open to science-based technologies that will harness nuclear energy amid increasing electricity costs.

Solidum said he will ask three organizations within the DOST to study the comparative costs of electricity from coal, gas, and nuclear energy as requested by Pangasinan 2nd District Rep. Mark Cojuangco.

"We as a department believe that we should be open to science-based technologies that will solve the challenges that we currently face, including making nuclear energy as an option in our energy mix," Solidum said.

"Based on the pricing, the nuclear power would be cheaper, plus in the long term, because of threat of global warming on the climate change aspect," he added.

"We are looking for funding for reasearch on nuclear, specifically ocean-sourced uranium... I think it’s now time for the government to take the cudgels in looking at this," said Cojuangco, a nuclear energy advocate.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Research Reactor in Commonwealth, Quezon City has been reactivated after 34 years, according to Philippine Nuclear Research Institute Director Carlo Arcilla.

The facility is designed and operated by Filipino scientists.

"We have a nuclear facility. The Philippine Research Reactor was just reactivated after 34 years… If the President continues his nuclear power program, there will have to be scientists trained in neutron dynamics," Arcilla said.

DOST BUDGET

The budget being proposed for the DOST under the 2023 National Expenditure Program is P24.06 billion. This is P20.11 billion less than what the agency had asked for, and P210 million lower than its 2022 budget. 

Half of the proposed budget for next year will go to scientific and technical services, one-fourth to Office of the Secretary and regional offices where grant-in-aid for S&T projects is lodged, while 10.39 percent will go to research and development institutes.

The DOST plans to prioritize innovation to assist in job creation, food, water, health and energy security, transportation, and climate and disaster resilience.

"I was wondering if we could perhaps do an R&D or a research initiative for salt, especially since salt industry is a hot topic right now. We found out that we import like 94 percent of our salt requirement abroad despite being archipelagic," Pangasinan 4th District Rep. Christopher de Venecia said.

"We have technologies to assist in salt production, led by industrial technology and development institutes. Although, there are constraints like for example the weather and the energy," Solidum replied.

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