Filipino Scientists: Alexis Belonio

I’ve realized that the content on this site has been heavily filled with arts, literature, and entertainment. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I just felt that I was not fulfilling my goal to make everyone aware of how many accomplished Filipinos there are out there that are paving the way for many of us. It seems that there is more emphasis on Filipinos in entertainment out there with the latest dance crews winning a national televised competition or the recent craze over Pilipinas Got Talent. For these reasons, I wanted to take this opportunity to start a new segment entitled, “Filipino Scientists.”

Alexis T. Belonio is a professor, engineer, scientist, innovator, and inventor from the Philippines. He was the first Filipino to receive the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2008 due to his creation of a low-cost and environment friendly rice husk stove. Belonio was included by the Rolex watchmaking company on its list of 10 model innovators in November 2008.

Belonio is an associate professor in agricultural engineering at the Central Philippine University of Iloilo City. He received $50,000 and a chronometer from the Rolex company for being included in the five Associate Laureates of the Rolex Award. Belonio was 48 years old when he received the award and said that he would use the money he received in promoting and disseminating his technology to other people without asking anything in return, by publishing information about the invention and establishing a Center for Rice Husk Technology in his hometown at Iloilo, Philippines. The actual formal recognition of Belonio by Rolex as the first Filipino Associate Laureate of the Rolex Award was held at The Manila Peninsula in the City of Makati on January 21, 2009.

Belonio’s rice husk stove is a small cylinder equipped with a fan in its base, which provides air during the conversion of rice hulls into gas. It was designed as an apparatus that can be easily operated. Fish can be fried in fifteen minutes using the stove. The stove consumes 2 kilograms of rice husks per hour. It does not produce any smoke, and the burnt rice husks can still be used as coal and also as insulating cement for traditional stoves fueled by wood. Plans for the stove are available free of charge from the internet.

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