Baguio students create biofuel from wild ‘gabi’ plant

Patty Pasion
Baguio students create biofuel from wild ‘gabi’ plant
Dubbed as 'Bio-Gab,' the group’s biofuel invention converts wild taro, which is hazardous to humans and animals, into a bioethanol that can fuel cars

MANILA, Philippines – Global warming has created the need for people to develop renewable, eco-friendly energy sources to lessen their dependency on petroleum.

This need also motivated a group of college students from St Louis University in Baguio City to create alternative fuel derived from the taro plant (scientific name: Colocasia esculenta) or locally known as gabi.

The plant grows anywhere, can thrive in almost any type of soil, and is highly resistant to floods and drought.

Dubbed as “Bio-Gab,” the group’s biofuel invention won them the Business and Idea Development Award 2016 given by by the Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The group is composed of Joji Tateoka, John Cyril Paco, Gregory Jones Ochoada, John Paul Galong, and Keanu Verzosa. They received their award in October 2016 and they are now aiming to have their invention be patented.

Giving back to the community

A poster of the product courtesy of John Cyril Paco

According to the group, “Bio-Gab” biofuel was produced by extracting the oil from wild taro and fermenting it for several weeks. They tested their invention and found that it is as effective as other petroleum products commonly used in cars.

Wild taro is rich in substances necessary for the creation of bioethanol, which can fuel cars in a cleaner way. 

“We tested it in a spare engine similar to that of jeepneys to prevent risk. Fortunately, it worked. The testing center also agreed that it is feasible for engines,” Ochoada told Rappler.

He added: “In the long run, our product will create great impact [on] the economy. At present, the country is using rice, coconut, and corn to create bio-ethanol. If we use wild gabi, which is an abundant yet inedible crop, we could maximize the use of the said agricultural products. We would also like to promote corporate social responsibility by providing jobs to the community.”

Paco, another group members, said that they invented Bio-Gab for the purpose of creating a better and safer world to live in. Since wild gabi is an inedible type of taro, which is hazardous to humans and other animals, they thought of converting it into a useful product.

“We believe that Bio-Gab will potentially revolutionize the industry by providing a product that will minimize the carbon monoxide emission of burning fuel,” he added.

“We also wanted to give back to the community, at the same time by providing jobs in the country, especially in the local areas where poverty and pollution is rampant,” Paco said. – Rappler.com

Rappler intern Enrico Belga Jr is a senior AB Mass Communication student from Centro Escolar University.

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.