by James Sia
Dr Arnold Lubguban (second from right) receives a certificate of appreciation from XU Academic VP Dr Lina Kwong and members of the Chemistry Department faculty.
Under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology's “Balik Scientist” program, a US-based Filipino chemical engineer visited Xavier University on May 15 to discuss a new use he helped develop for soybean oil: as raw material for foams and cushions.
Dr Arnold Lubguban, known for his work on soybean-oil derived polyurethanes (used in the manufacture of a variety of foams and other resilient materials), delivered a lecture on his research and methodology at the SBM AVR 7 for the benefit of the XU Chemistry Department's faculty and students, as well as other members of the community interested in the subject. Gracing the occasion was XU Academic Vice President Dr. Lina Kwong.
Funded by the United States soybean industry, Dr. Lubguban and his colleagues have developed polyurethane created from specially-treated soybean oil, which he says is a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to petroleum as the main ingredient for polyurethane production. However, new foams that take advantage of this new technology are composed of only 50% soybean-oil polyurethane, with its petroleum-derived counterpart still comprising the other 50%, according to Dr. Lubguban.
Dr. Lubguban also suggested to XU's chemists and chemistry students that indigenous plant material such as coconut oil, though not as readily viable as soybean oil for foam production, could still have potential as renewable alternatives to fossil-fuel based industrial polymers, given further research.
A native of Malabang, Lanao del Sur, Dr. Lubguban completed his chemical engineering studies at the University of the Philippines in 1999 before receiving both his M.S. (2005) and Ph.D. (2009) from the University of Missouri. As a DOST “Balik Scientist”, his host institutions are the Ateneo de Manila University, the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), the Department of Science and Technology Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) and Chemrez Technologies. Currently, his research involves biomedical applications of radiochemistry.