World’s first rice straw biogas facility to open in Laguna

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The world's first Rice Straw to Biogas (R2B) facility, developed by a company based in the United Kingdom (UK), is set to formally start operations in the Philippines.

Straw Innovations Ltd. said it will soon formally start operations of the world's pilot plant for an R2B project, which aims to use leftover rice straw to make clean energy.

The facility is located in Victoria, Laguna and will be officially launched on June 26. “The official launching will be an opportunity to share findings from the project, see the system working and present plans for scaling out,” the company said in a statement.

Rice is the world's number one food crop, but farmers are having a hard time to dispose the stems and leaves (straw) out of unhusked rice. In Asia, this has become a major disposable problem, with around 300 million tons of rice straws being burned in paddy fields each year.

But then, prior research has shown that the straw can be gathered and processed to release the methane in a controlled environment, where it can be captured and used as a clean-burning cooking fuel (biogas).

"Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could transform a massive waste problem into an opportunity to make clean energy, a soil enhancer and a source of jobs for rural areas?" it added.

The company's R2B project in Laguna is the first of its kind, which could make affordable, clean biogas fuel and fertilizer from rice straw through a process called anaerobic digestion.

It is showcasing an efficient method of collecting rice straw and feeding it into two dry anaerobic digesters with gas processing equipment that can deliver a range of clean energy products. This system is backed up by lab work and analysis by university and commercial partners in the UK.

The company said the internationally significant prototype is already bringing benefits to local rice farmers, creating rural jobs and enhancing the environment as a viable alternative to burning rice straw.

Outside the Philippines, China is also constructing its first R2B plant.