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Dr. Jordan Madrid (middle), head of the PNRI Chemistry Research Section, receives the certificate of recognition for the Outstanding Utility Model Award during the 2019 Regional Invention Contest and Exhibits (RICE). They are joined by DOST NCR Director Jose Patalinjug III (2nd from right) and other officials. Photo by DOST-NCR

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Mr. Patrick Jay Cabalar and Dr. Jordan Madrid of the Chemistry Research Section with their exhibit of the utility model “Composite Nonwoven Fabric Heavy Metal Adsorbent and Method for Preparing the Same” at the 2019 Regional Invention Contest and Exhibits (RICE).

PNRI Chemists Win 2019 RICE Award for Radiation Grafting Technology

For developing radiation grafting applications which can deal with toxic materials and other pollutants, scientists and researchers from the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) were among the winners during the 2019 DOST Regional Invention Contests and Exhibits (RICE) held on November 6 to 8, 2019.

Dr. Jordan Madrid, head of the PNRI Chemistry Research Section (CRS), CRS researcher Mr. Patrick Jay Cabalar and Dr. Lucille Abad, Career Scientist and Chief of PNRI’s Atomic Research Division, were awarded as Regional Winners for the National Capital Region under the Outstanding Utility Model Award for the PNRI-developed utility model entitled “Composite Nonwoven Fabric Heavy Metal Adsorbent and Method for Preparing the Same”.

Radiation can be used to modify materials and graft various polymers that can have advanced properties such as filtering various contaminants from water.

For this utility model, PNRI developed a nonwoven fabric from natural fibers such as abaca. Abaca continues to be useful and readily available as the Philippines remains its world’s largest producer, accounting for around 85% of the global production. The native material’s natural strength also makes it perfect for withstanding the grafting procedure, allowing it to serve as a base material.

The abaca would be grafted with synthetic polymers that can filter toxic heavy metals dissolved in liquid. Metals such as lead, cadmium, nickel, chromium, mercury and arsenic can become contaminants that are harmful to human health and the environment.

The materials are grafted using radiation at PNRI’s Electron Beam Irradiation Facility, after which it is further processed into its final form as a synthesized filter for heavy metals.

Studies showed that the nonwoven fabric is reusable and cheaper to use than commercial resins which have the same purpose, while also being on par, if not better, in filtering the waste.

PNRI was granted a utility model for the technology in 2019, and radiation grafted materials are expected to prove useful for various industries, particularly those requiring waste water treatment. Researchers are also looking forward to the development of other applications of radiation grafting such as producing biodiesel and recovering precious metals. The abaca-based adsorbent was developed under a project funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) and in cooperation with the Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) which provided the abaca-polyester nonwoven fabric.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also engaged in a project with the Philippines and other countries for the increasing use of these technologies to minimize hazardous pollutants in various bodies of water in the Asia-Pacific region.

The DOST 2019 RICE recognizes the efforts and hard work of Filipino inventors, researchers and students, encourages the development of inventions through competitions and highlights the role of the Filipino inventors in Philippine society and in the context of national economic development.