Swiss Tannin Project

Swiss-Pinoy Tannin Project

Development of sustainable tannin extraction strategy in the Philippines

In partnership with:

VSU Component

Team Leader

Dr. Victor B. Asio
Project Leader

Team Members

Dr. Angelica P. Baldos
Study Leader

Mr. Marvin D. Cascante
Science Research Associate

Ms. Jessa Modina
Science Research Assistant (2020)

Ms. Muffet Requitillo
Science Research Assistant (2021)

Swiss Partner

Team Leader

Dr. Frédéric Pichelin
Project Leader

Project Coordinator

Dr. Sauro Bianchi

Team Members

Ms. Mélanie Feurer

Ms. Emilie Demaurex

Dr. Jürgen Blaser

Mr. Vincent Neveu
Student Researcher

What is Pinoy Tannin project?

The Pinoy Tannin project (from Pinoy = the local slang for ‘Filipino’), short for the project title: ‘Development of sustainable tannin extraction strategy in the Philippines’, intends to develop the scientific, technological and socio-economic knowledge needed for the successful implementation of a sustainable tannin extraction technology in local communities in the Philippines. A variety of expertise from Swiss and Philippine partners are combined in the project team: Bern University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland), Forest Products Research Development Institute (Philippines), Philippine Coconut Authority - Zamboanga (Philippines); and Visayas State University (Philippines).

How it started?

In the Philippines, about 25 million people live in the uplands, of which a large proportion is organized in local communities on forestlands. Their income options from conventional timber and crops trading are limited. Thus, the valorization of non-timber and non-crop biomasses represents an attractive option for the improvement of the livelihoods of local communities. Biomasses such as bark, twigs, roots, shells, and husks, are potential sources of natural phenolics, especially condensed tannins. The industrial interest in condensed tannins, besides their traditional use in fiber dying and leather processing, is based on their suitability as natural substitutes for the formulation of wood adhesives. Plywood, particleboards and fibreboards have been produced at industrial scale partially substituting phenol-formaldehyde resins with tannin and even with formaldehyde-free adhesive formulations entirely based on tannins. Furthermore, plant extracts rich in tannins showed also biocide characteristics that suggested their possible use as wood preservatives alternatives to toxic synthetic products.
In 2017, the “Cocoboards” Project (of which the Pinoy Tannin project is intended to be a substantial contribution) proved the concept of using a simple aqueous solution of tannins for bonding fibreboards made of milled coconut husk, without the addition of any chemicals (Cocoboards), which are suitable for interior walls paneling and ceiling applications in housing units. Out of the 20 still operating plywood plants in the Philippines, a company is currently using tannin as cost-efficient substitutes for phenols in synthetic adhesives. However, only a few efforts have been documented for the development of a tannin extraction value chain in Southeast Asia. The use of tannins from the bark of some common Philippine wood species in wood adhesives was already investigated in the 1980s by the Forest Products Research Development Institute (a PINOY TANNIN project partner) with successful results on laboratory scale, but without a subsequent implementation in the local wood industry. The presence of tannins in coconut husk, roots and trunks is also well-documented. The Pinoy Tannin Project therefore aims to address the known issues of the tannin extraction process.

Objectives of the Project

The project specifically intends to 1) identify sources of condensed tannins, 2) introduce sustainable agroforestry practices, 3) develop a low-end extraction technology, 4) develop a model extraction facility tested in an industrial environment, 5) create a model for the market entry, and 6) develop and recommend new agroforestry policies to integrate tannin products into the forest and timber industry value chain. With this set of objectives, the project aims to integrate cutting-edge research with boundary conditions set by the specific context in the Philippines, thus creating a low-end innovation tailored to the needs of the local communities.

Figure 1. Schematic view of the Pinoy Tannin Project.

Pinoy Tannin (VSU Component) Milestones

The project was launched on June 2018 and will run until June 2022. This 4-year time frame required well-coordinated work packages distributed among the project members. VSU’s responsibility is to collect biomasses for hot water extraction and spearhead the establishment of a tannin plantation site in Leyte. The FPRDI team, with its various units, is responsible for performing laboratory extractions, chemical characterization of the extracts, and designing a cost-efficient extraction system (with PCA). The PCA team, in parallel with FPRDI, is working on extracting biomasses sourced from coconut farming.
So far, the first year of the project has been dedicated to identifying possible tannin sources. In August 2018, VSU sent bark samples to FPRDI from 20 tannin-containing species based on literatures, for tannin extraction and analysis.

A second batch of bark samples was delivered to FPRDI for extract validation in September 2018.
In February 2019, VSU hosted the first Pinoy Tannin Project Meeting, with the following outputs: 1) Presentation of results from the different project partners, 2) Discussion on the selection of biomasses for tannin extraction and establishment, 3) SWOT analysis of different strategies for implementing tannin extraction in the Philippines, 4) Planning of activities and budget allocation for the second project year (June 2019-May 2020), and 5) Experimental design and layout of the tannin plantation site.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the selection of the tannin species for piloting. Out of all the biomasses VSU sent for extraction and analysis, 6 species had the most promising tannin content. Results of the hot water extractions by FPRDI have shown that Acacia mangium, Paraserianthes falcataria (falcata), Acacia auriculiformis, Leucaena leucocephala (ipil-ipil), Pterospermum obliquum (bayog), and Terminalia microcarpa (kalumpit) have high tannin content in the bark.

(In February 27, 2019, during the visit to the plantation site in Can-angay, Inopacan, Leyte, Swiss partner Jürgen Blaser (center) shares his ideas for the experimental design of the tannin plantation, and some knowledge on the common species growing in degraded areas.)

(Project partners pose for a picture on February 28, 2019, during the PINOY TANNIN Project Meeting at Visayas State University, Baybay City, Leyte.)

Following the meeting, VSU has prepared the available materials to propagate seedlings from selected species for the tannin plantation.

(The ‘Pinoy Tannin Nursery’ was established to accommodate the growing seedlings.)

In June 2019, VSU collected 20-25 kilograms of bark samples from the 6 most promising tannin species and were sent to PCA for tannin extraction on a large (industrial) scale.

Falcata bark samples

Ipil-ipil bark samples

Bayog bark samples

Acacia mangium bark samples

Acacia auriculiformis bark samples

Kalumpit bark samples