DOST backs revisit of nuclear energy policy to address rising power cost

At the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of Executive Order 116, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) throws support for the renewed efforts to engage in a nuclear power program as it also pushes for an independent regulatory body through a pending bill in Congress.

DOST-PNRI, the country’s lead agency in atomic research and development, underscores that adding nuclear to the current energy mix will pave the way for more efficient and less costly power cost.

The Institute is a member of the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEPIAC) created by EO 116. NEPIAC, tasked mainly to study the adoption of a national position on nuclear power, is chaired by the Department of Energy (DOE) with the DOST as vice chair.

Nuclear energy as best option

Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, DOST-PNRI director, asserts that nuclear energy is the best option for the country’s long-term plans for more affordable power generation.

 “Ask anyone who has relatives abroad, and they will tell you the stark difference between their electricity rates and ours,” said Dr. Arcilla, who strongly advocates for the Philippines to finally establish its own nuclear power program. “That’s how the Philippines lags behind other countries in terms of power cost.”

“Nuclear is simply the cleanest, cheapest and most efficient means of producing electricity. Nuclear power will especially spare the poorest among the Filipinos who are the ones actually allotting the lion’s share of their income just for electric bills,” said Dr. Arcilla.

Increasing electricity rates and occasional power outages only worsen the national mood as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Solution to climate change

Nuclear energy has the capacity to produce baseload power for a continuous supply of electricity 24/7, according to Dr. Arcilla.
Conventional sources such as coal and natural gas also has similar capacity, but nuclear does not entail the high cost of refueling fossil fuels or the carbon emissions that are the bane of a world ravaged by climate change.

A single pellet of uranium fuel almost the size of a pencil eraser contains as much energy as a ton of coal (907 kg), three barrels of oil (149 gallons), or as much as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, says Dr. Arcilla.
These advantages of nuclear energy have been acknowledged by the DOST-National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), the country’s leading advisory and scientific recognition body.

In a statement issued last year, DOST-NAST formally recommended nuclear power for the country’s energy mix, saying that “nuclear fuel can be a viable solution to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

DOST-NAST further states that nuclear serves as an alternative to fossil fuels not only in terms of environmental impact, but also in terms of its economic feasibility.

“[T]he dependence on imported fossil fuels makes the country vulnerable to world energy price volatility. By comparison, the cost of generating nuclear energy is less sensitive to nuclear fuel price due to the larger component contributed by its capital cost.”

Regulatory body for nuclear

Aside from advocating nuclear science and technology, the DOST-PNRI also continues to push for the enactment of the Comprehensive Atomic Regulatory Act which will create an independent nuclear regulatory body in the Philippines. International standards prescribe a separate agency that will handle the regulation of all activities and facilities involving sources of ionizing radiation.

“While we are waiting for a law creating an independent body, RA 5207 is still a basis for pursuing nuclear power as it was when the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was being licensed in the 70s and 80s,” says Dr. Carlito Aleta, former DOST-PNRI director, DOST Balik Scientist specializing on nuclear engineering, and consultant of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “Let’s hope a new bill will be passed by Congress creating a new regulatory body.”  

RA 5207 or the Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968 encourages, promotes, and assists the development and use of atomic energy for all peaceful purposes, including the production and use of atomic energy facilities and atomic energy materials, subject to regulations.

The regulations will cover matters involving nuclear power, nuclear and radioactive materials, facilities and radiation-generating equipment used for diagnosis and treatment of diseases in hospitals and medical centers, and other industrial activities in the country.

Currently, the DOST-PNRI serves as the national regulatory body for nuclear and radioactive materials. (By the Nuclear Information and Documentation Section, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute)

DOST links university researchers to local industries
By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII
 Members of various industry sectors and the academe shared their respective success and acquired benefits as a result of collaborating with one another in the recent episode of the DOST Report aired on 07 August 2020.

As beneficiaries of the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the private companies were able to address some of the existing challenges in their operations and services through the research and development (R&D) studies made by experts from the different universities in the country.

CRADLE, part of the Science for Change (S4C) program of the DOST, encourages synergistic relationship between the academe, research and development institutions and industry through collaborative R&D projects. Under the program, the private sector industries identify the problem or challenges in their operation and the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and research and development institutions (RDI) will then undertake the R&D activities to solve the problem.

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said that the DOST primarily implemented the S4C program to ensure that the research projects of the different universities and research centers will be put into good use by various industries because of their practical application.

“We don’t want to limit our researchers to merely publishing their works in universities; we also want some sectors to benefit from their works,” said de la Peña.

Aquafeeds for Lab-Lab

Aquaculture can be considered a multi-million-peso industry and plays an important role spurring economic development in the country. However, the cost of production that include aquafeeds, among others, have increased and has become a major concern for fish farmers.

In the Philippines, lab-lab was noted as one of the primary feeds used for milkfish production that has big potential for innovation.

Seeing this opportunity, the De La Salle University-Manila (DLSU-Manila) and Santeh Feeds Corporation implemented a project that developed the following: Lab-Lab Harvester Autonomous Mode, Lab-Lab Harvester Vision System, Drying and Preservation Machine.

According to Dr. Alvin B. Culaba, project leader of the Aquafeed Lab-Lab that was enrolled in the CRADLE program, researchers and scientists from DLSU-Manila developed a technology wherein lab-lab can be harvested every summer so it can be preserved and used during the rainy season, thus ensuring a steady supply of the feeds. He further said that lab-lab is a natural material that grows abundantly in watery areas, particularly during the summer season.

The researchers from the De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila developed a technology wherein lab-lab, a primary feeds ingredient used for milkfish production, will be harvested every summer so it can be preserved for use even during the rainy season.

“With the use of Automated Lab-lab Harvester, the collection of lab-lab has been made quicker. During manual collection, it takes around 30 minutes and four (4) to five (5) people are needed to complete the collection of lab-lab but with the help of the newly-invented machine, the process only takes five minutes. “said Dr. Culaba.

He also mentioned that the dried lab-lab which is made into powder is being placed into the dryer to preserve lab-lab by minimizing the moisture content, resulting in an extended shelf life. With this technology, lab-lab becomes readily available even during off-season especially during the rainy season at lesser cost.

Dr. Culaba said that the CRADLE program of the DOST is ideal because private companies are given the chance to work with scientists and the universities with R&D capacity to do research, share knowledge, and develop technologies that will address the real problems of the industry.

“I agree with Doc Alvin (Culaba), though we are also making R&D initiatives in the industry, we admit that we have limited resources when it comes to the financial aspect and our skills are inadequate for these tasks.” said Patricia I. Rico, president of Santeh Feeds Corporation.

She said that this kind of arrangement, with the academe partnering with industry and government that provides the funds, is a huge help to innovate, to be more cost-efficient and improve the existing production process.

Surveillance System for Banana disease 

In the field of crop management, banana disease is a major problem for growers as it takes a lot of time and resources to maintain the good quality of plants. The banana disease, if not controlled or eradicated, can cause big profit loss and increase in prices of the product in the market.

To address this problem, the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) and HIJO Resources Corporation, one of the many banana plantations in Mindanao, worked together to develop ROSANNA: Mobile Banana Disease Surveillance System.

As the banana disease becomes a huge problem for the local growers, researchers from the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) developed a Disease Surveillance System to enhance the disease control interventions of HIJO Resources Corporation in Davao City.

Dr. Val Quimno, project leader from USEP said that Banana Disease Surveillance System has established and enhanced the company’s disease control interventions through better understanding of pests, plant selection, harvest monitoring, inputs monitoring, plant care, fertilization, and farm operation modules. As a result of this innovation, the system generated substantial savings for the company.

According to the Chief Executive Officer, Rosanna Tuason-Fores, Hijo is not a large company so it has limited resources, particularly for R&D. However, they are looking for ways to innovate in order to change the traditional farming practices and improve their banana disease management.

“I wanted an authentic R&D for more sustainable ways to go to a more sustainable approach to address our problem. I have noticed over the last three years that from 55 cycles of deploying pest disease systemic and contact pesticides into the farm, they have grown up to 76 with no significant impact on the pest and disease management,” said Tuason-Fores.

On the other hand, Dr. Quimno said that the intention of the disease surveillance system is to minimize the frequency of non-spraying by coming up with a more realistic surveillance process and to provide alternatives to farm managers to learn appropriate interventions.

“Basically, we have spotters in the field who are helping us in data collection through our mobile application and then our mobile application will send the data to our system or to our server and then perform a number of crunching analysis to come up with intervention options for the farm managers,” concluded Dr. Quimno.


DOST patuloy na nagbibigay ng kabuhayan sa kabila ng pandemya
Ni Rosemarie C. Señora, S&T Media Service

Bagong pag-asa ang dala ng Department of Science and Technology (DOST) para sa mga kababayan nating nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa pagsasara ng maraming kompanya dulot ng COVID-19 sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng kabuhayan na may kinalaman sa paggamit ng makina, pagsasanay, at iba pang gawaing pang-agrikultura.

Tulong para sa seaweed farmers

Nabigyan ng seaweed dryers o mga makinang makatutulong sa pagpapatuyo ng seaweed ang mga seaweed farmer na nakatira sa ilang pamayanan sa baybayin ng munipalidad ng Dumalinao at siyudad ng Pagadian sa Zamboanga del Sur (ZDS) sa Rehiyon IX.

Ang grant na nagkakahalaga ng P700,000 ay ipinagkaloob sa Bomba at Baroy Seaweeds Farm Association mula sa mga lugar na nabanggit sa ilalim ng proyektong tinatawag na “Province-Wide Technology Adoption of DOST-Funded Greenhouse Permanent / Floating Type Seaweed Dryer with Foldable Siding for the Seaweed Farmers”.

Ang naturang proyekto ay kasalukuyang isinasagawa ng Provincial S&T Center (PSTC ng Zamboanga del Sur sa pakikipagtulungan sa lalawigan ng ZDS na pinangungunahan ni Gob. Victor J. Yu at ng University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) – Center of Agri-Fisheries and Biosystems Mechanization.

Tinatayang 150 na seaweed farmer ang makakagamit ng mga ibinigay na seaweed dryer upang makagawa ng tinuyong agar-agar seaweed na may mas magandang kalidad at maibebenta sa higit na mataas na halaga.

Urban gardening tech para sa piling komunidad sa NCR

Tatlong barangay naman mula sa National Capital Region ang hinandugan ng DOST-NCR at ng DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) ng mga kagamitan para sa pagtatanim ng gulay.

Sa ilalim ng proyektong “Gulayan sa Pamayanan”, nakatanggap ang Barangay CAA sa Las Piñas City; Barangay BF Homes, Phase 3 sa Parañaque; at ang Barangay 412 sa Sampaloc, Manila ng teknolohiya para sa urban gardening tulad ng Enriched Potting Preparation (EPP) at ang Simple Nutrient Addition Program o SNAP Hydroponics na makapagbibigay ng karagdagang kabuhayan.

Samantala, labingwalong micro, small, and medium enterprises o MSMEs na may kinalaman sa negosyong pagkain ang lumahok sa webinar na pinamagatang “Food Trends and Opportunities during the Current Pandemic”. Ito ay makatutulong sa mga retailer at manufacturer na makasabay sa ‘new normal’ sa pamamagitan ng pagpapaunlad ng kanilang operasyon at pagharap sa makabagong mga hamon dulot ng pandemya.

Aprubado na ang aplikasyon ng 70 OFWs na nais magnegosyo sa bansa

May 70 sa 118 na aplikanteng Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) na nais makapagnegosyo sa larangan ng food processing at paggawa ng produktong pang-agrikultura ang aprubado na ang aplikasyon sa ilalim ng iFWD PH o Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines Project ng DOST. Sumailalim na sila sa oryentasyon noong ika-20 ng Agosto 2020 at sasali naman sila sa Technology Pitching Session na itinalagang gawin sa ika-24 ng Agosto 2020.