After expressing amazement at how a unique stove turns used cooking oil into fuel, Lucita Dayco, a resident of Muntinlupa City who was among those who attended a demonstration of the product held recently at city hall, finally asked the question that had been nagging at her.
“How much are we going to pay for it?” Dayto asked the presenters who promptly burst into laughter.
“You don’t have to pay a single cent for this,” replied Tantri Kadiman Beekelaar of Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances Group, an Indonesian-based firm that created the used cooking oil stove called Protos. “We are giving this away for free.”
Upon hearing this, Dayto and 20 other residents of Barangay (village) Southville 3 who were at the product demonstration cheered to the delight of the donors who aim to replicate the “self-sustaining villages” they put up in India and Cameroon in Muntinlupa City.
The city has been chosen by the Singaporean renewable fuels firm BioEnergyPlantations as the third candidate for the program, according to company chair Narendra Raju.
“We picked the city because of the city government’s aggressive pursuit of the green initiative through its plastic ban,” Raju told the Inquirer in an interview held earlier this month at city hall.
Together with Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances Group, Raju and BioEnergyPlantations are putting up self-sustaining villages by handing out to families tools to replace conventional power sources.
Aside from the stove, Raju has turned over to some 30 families in Southville 3—a barangay inside the sprawling Bilibid reservation—solar panels that can power light-emitting diode bulbs and even charge cell phones.
Raju and Beekelaar took turns in showing to the beneficiaries how the gadgets work.
“A liter of used cooking oil can fuel the stove for four hours,” Beekelaar said to the curious participants who exchanged looks of disbelief at first. “The tank can hold two liters of used cooking oil.”
Later, she gave the Inquirer a short refresher course in chemistry as she explained how the stove works. She said the tank turns the oil from liquid to gas. When the gas produced is hot enough, the stove can be lighted using denatured alcohol.
“It’s blue flame so the fuel burns efficiently, and you can see there’s no smoke,” Beekelaar told her audience, adding that the Protos stove was quite popular among caterers in Jakarta.
Aside from the efficient use of fuel, the gas from the used cooking oil is not combustible, she continued.
Should the tank or stove be toppled by accident, it will not create a spark that may led to an explosion because cooking oil will not start a fire, Beekelaar added.
For his part, Raju stressed the need to shift from carbon-based power sources to renewable energy, saying that it was imperative for people in third world countries to adapt because of dwindling resources and the spiking cost of power.
“In other countries, you’d see people living with insufficient light, water and food,” Raju said as he added that the project was meant to address the shortage.
It wasn’t tough to source used cooking oil as fuel since “everybody cooks,” he added.
As for the donated solar panels, Raju stressed that these would continue to function even on a cloudy day. He said that a temperature of at least 24 degrees Celsius was enough to charge the battery for the panels.
Next month, the families at Southville will get regular visits from evaluators to check on how they are adapting to their renewable energy tools, Raju said as he added that there are plans to put up windmills to generate power for the whole barangay.
“The excess power the community collects can be sold back to the grid,” he pointed out as he said that this could also be a potential revenue source as well.
Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro, meanwhile, thanked the donors, saying the act further bolstered his commitment to make the city “green.”
Once the program takes off, “maybe we can expand it… on a larger scale,” he said.
San Pedro added that he would continue discussing with Raju the prospects of putting up a solar panel plant in the city which according to him would generate jobs for residents.
Raju, on the other hand, said the company was still studying the possibility while “learning about the country’s laws and the city’s regulations.”