A battery that lights up, cleans PH waters

Published May 5, 2021, 10:34 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

A battery that lights up the path of fisherfolks and cleans polluted waters has been developed, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) said Wednesday, May 5.

iLawà prototypes are designed to be easily carried in small fishing boats. (Photo from DOST-PCIEERD)

The DOST-PCIEERD said the “durable, cost-effective” battery technology was developed by researchers from the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP).

“Dubbed iLAWA, derived from the Filipino phrase ilaw mula sa lawa (light from the lake), the researchers developed the battery technology from recycled aluminum like cans to help light the path of fisherfolks and clean lakes when submerged underwater,” it said in a statement.

The Council noted that the TIP’s battery gets its power from the electrolytes in the water due to the presence of electric charges.

“The battery cleans the water by removing its phosphate content. Phospates in lake waters come from agricultural and residential runoffs, dissipating as the cell operates in the water,” it said.

The developers of the battery technology are engineers Niel Jon Carl Aguel, Ana Luz Callao, Paul Vincent Nonat, and Rowel Facunla.

The team, led by Dr. Drandreb Earl O. Juanico, first conceptualized iLawà in 2016 to address energy-related problems that the island of Talìm in the middle of Laguna Lake has been experiencing, the DOST-PCIEERD said.

In 2017, the team’s earliest prototype was recognized by a non-government organization advocating sustainable energy, it said.

Recognizing the potential of their renewable energy (RE) innovation, the TIP team, through the funding support from the DOST’s TECHNICOM Program, pushed for the prototype development, field testing, and market validation.

It was the DOST-PCIEERD that monitored the enhancement of the battery technology.

“With the project, the team was able to optimize the prototype with its cell volume and mass reduced by 90 percent and 73 percent, respectively, while increasing power output by 89 percent. These technical improvements lead to greater potential uses that require higher electrical power levels,” the DOST-PCIEERD said.

The Council noted that the TIP team has forged several partnerships among material suppliers for the commercialization phase and technology adopters such as the Federation ng Mangingisda ng Bayan ng Binangonan, a fisher folk cooperative that operates in Barangay Ithan, Binangonan in Rizal.

“The TIP team envisions that the widespread adoption of iLawà will promote aluminum recycling and help remediate polluted lake waters. The release of phosphates through chemical reaction in the battery will improve water quality,” it said.

“It will minimize fish kills in lakes and enhance the fishing livelihood in lake towns,” it added.

PCIEERD Executive Director Enrico Paringit lauded the team’s conscious efforts to boost the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolks.

“By developing a durable, cost-effective innovation, not only will TIP’s technology produce clean energy but also improve lake environments. We look forward to seeing iLawà light up Philippines’ aquacultural areas, rivers, and even coastal waters,” he said.