Press Release
May 27, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara is backing the establishment of a Philippine Algae Research Center, which is envisioned to harness the potential of algae in the lucrative fields of nutraceuticals, cosmetics, pharmeceuticals and animal feeds.

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), said that the best way for the country to develop the industry would be through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). This would allow the private sector to focus leverage its industrial research, as well as academic research, to develop viable commercial products.

Angara said that COMSTE partners from Alson's Aquaculture and the Ateneo Innovation Center (AIC) are collaborating on a PPP that looks into the commercial uses of algae, including its use as a biofuel.

According to COMSTE, initial experiments in the country have demonstrates that algae holds high potential for biofuel. At the same time, it can also be utilized as a carbon sink when attached to coal-fired plants.

The team from the AIC and Alsons, plus two other photo bio-reactor companies, aims to study optimal conditions that will promote the growth of algae, as well as capturing carbon dioxide emitted by coal plants by placing adjacent aquaculture ponds.

Angara said that this collaboration can eventually lead to the development of a proposed National Project in Algae, which can jumpstart the expansion of the new biofuel.

The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Aquatic Resources (DA-BAR) is also pursuing the exploration of algae for commercial purposes. Iloilo-based Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) has an algae culture collection, which Angara says could be tapped to expand PPPs that will drive the growth of the local algae industry.

The Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research in Wales reports that the algae biofuel industry had an estimated value of $700 million in 2004, which is expected to further grow.

The US-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory is currently studying the most viable strains of algae for renewable fuel.

Angara noted that new developments in algal research present fresh opportunities for the Philippines to team up with other renewable energy leaders conducting serious research on algae.

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