UP Visayas develops alcohol from sugar byproduct to donate to hospitals and frontliners

HSBC Philippines
UP Visayas Alcohol donation
UPV-SoTech took the lead in developing and producing alcohol from sugar byproduct called molasses. Photo courtesy of UP Visayas.

University of the Philippines Visayas School of Technology (UPV-SoTech) took the lead in developing a sugar byproduct into alcohol for donation to hospitals and frontliners and for public sanitation.

The UPV-SoTech developed disinfectant ethanol from the sugar byproduct called molasses as an initiative of UPV chemists and the UPV administration.

UPV announced on April 6, 2020, that the school is gearing up to produce more alcohol solutions done through a basic fermentation process using drum-type batch fermenters.

The process would take up to four to five days. Packed bed bioreactors for ethanol fermentation are being set up at the Miagao campus to further increase the production rate.

“It is expected that the initial yield of ethanol will be ready in two days, after which the UPV chemists along with researchers from the UPV Regional Research Center will proceed to its distillation. Chemists from the Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas have also volunteered to assist in the project,” UP Visayas reported.

“We are operating at limited resources and we use whatever is available here. For example, instead of sophisticated drums, we made use of the plastic container as one of our intermediate propagation containers and then for fermentation,” said Dr. Romer Bautista, SoTech dean said.

After the fermentation process, it will undergo the distillation process to ensure that the ethanol alcohol solution reaches 60% or more to be effectively antiseptic or antimicrobial. After the distillation process, Bautista said they will still be adding all the components like glycerol and hydrogen peroxide to the solution.

“We are looking at the requirements of the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control. From their regulation, 60 percent will do,” he said.

Dr. Bautista said that the team will improve the distillation set-up and will provide another distillation process. They also aim to produce with 30 liters of at least 70 percent ethanol per day. The team can produce the 30 liters alcohol for three days a week since it takes longer days for the fermentation process.

According to the UPV report, the production of ethanol was made possible by Terence Uygongco and IBAH who donated molasses from La Filipina Uygongco Corporation, Capiz Sugar Central, Inc., and Universal Robina Corporation – Sugar and Renewables (URC-SURE), Passi City, Iloilo.

The plastic drums used for fermenting the molasses were donations from the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) through the efforts of John Cañonero. The other donors were Martin Mabunay, Atty. Joseph Go, Irma Lim, and Noel Lucero. San Miguel Brewery, McDonalds, Megaworld and JCI also donated trolleys for the transfer of the necessary materials for production.

Meanwhile, UPV welcomes the inquiries of other universities such as University of the Philippines-Tacloban, Eastern Visayas State University, Mindoro State Collage for Agriculture and Technology, and the Department of Science and Technology in Western Visayas who have asked UPV for its process design so they can replicate the process of alcohol production.

“It is a good thing because we cannot provide for all,” Dr. Bautista said.

University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas students, who were unable to go home due to lockdowns and canceled flights, volunteered to make improvised face shields to be used by health professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Iloilo.

University of the Philippines – Diliman (UPD) food technology students have formulated and produced ginger-calamansi drink for the frontliners of the Philippine General Hospital and Lung Center of the Philippines.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to UPV SoTech for taking the lead in using locally available material to produce disinfectant alcohol for donation to hospitals.

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Blesilda Dela Cruz
Blesilda Dela Cruz is a undergraduate student taking up AB Communication at De La Salle University – Dasmariñas. An Efficient, Hard-working, Committed, and Goal-oriented person towards the goal and development of the company. A reliable team member who knows how to collaborate well. Has a passion in story-telling and acting.