The Philippines may soon have the technology remove oil spills, such as that off Oriental Mindoro in February, with the “CocoFlexSorb” that was developed at Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).
The bio-based polyurethane foam was developed through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Balik Scientist program. It was presented to the public on May 11, said a news release from the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).
Unlike those available in the market, CocoFlexSorb has superior oil absorption capacity and can absorb different types of oil from light, vegetable, kerosene, engine and bunker oil, DOST-PCIEERD said.
CocoFlexSorb may also be reused 40 times and is not harmful to the environment.
The technology was used during field tests in Occidental Mindoro with the Philippine Coast Guard in May. It showed promising results, indicating that this technology could be a solution to an oil spill problem.
However, further testing and development are necessary before the technology can be adopted and commercialized, DOST-PCIEERD said.
“The development of eco-friendly and cost-effective polymers derived from natural sources shows promise in mitigating the impact of oil spills,” said Dr. Arnold A. Lubguban, DOST Balik Scientist and Project Leader of MSU-IIT’s Center for Sustainable Polymer.
“With this achievement, we hope to inspire researchers to continue investing in innovative technologies and collaborations to work towards a cleaner and healthier environment,” Lubguban added.
Science Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. said, “DOST is very proud of the accomplishments of MSU-IIT with its collaborative efforts with industry.”
“The DOST is steadfast in driving the industry through continuous R&D to enable technological advancement. Innovations like the CocoFlexSorb provides options for a better life to Filipinos like clean water and a healthy environment,” Solidum added.
The technology was developed from the DOST-Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (Nicer) program Center for Sustainable Polymers at the MMSU-IIT.
The innovation center is inaugurated on May 10, showcasing three product lines, DOST-PCIEERD said.
First, Rigid Insulation Foam Panels designed for building and construction industry, targeting the segment who prioritize sustainable and eco-friendly materials.
It is the first of its kind to use polyol derived entirely from coconut oil, without any petroleum-based substitutes.
Second, Viscoelastic Foams, a bio-based alternative to commercially available “memory” foams. It has higher density than conventional foams and possesses the signature feature of memory foams—slow recovery.
Third, Superoleophilic Foams that has shown potential to absorb numerous types of oil. The material has been proven to have high affinity and absorption capacity in bunker oil, fresh and used engine oil, kerosene and vegetable oils.
It is hydrophobic in both fresh and salt water and has superior reusability as its oil sorption capacity does not diminish with use.
DOST has been funding universities like MSU-IIT through the Nicer Program to capacitate higher education institutions in the regions to make significant improvement in regional research by integrating its development need with the existing R&D research capabilities and resources.
It has been providing institutional grant for R&D capacity building to improve their S&T infrastructure.
Science Undersecretary for R&D Leah J. Buendia said: “We need to develop the country’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem through linkages between academe, industry, and government. This translates to upgrades in products and services in our local companies.”
Buendia also pointed out: “The breakthroughs in MSU-IIT is the perfect example of harmonizing our resources combined with the support given to our Filipino scientists.”
Image credits: DOST-PCIEERD