MANILA – Millennial entrepreneurs Jackie Yap, Leon Kee, and Hazel May Pajotagana have found a brilliant way of helping reduce the world’s dependence on coal: In 2015, they co-founded HiGi Energy, a startup currently based in Taytay, Rizal. Their award-winning product is a clean energy briquette made from a very unlikely material: water hyacinth, which is often mistaken for water lily.
Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is a highly problematic invasive species outside its native range. They could grow up to 7.28 tons per hectare per day, which is so much faster than the growth cycle of most plants and trees.
“HiGi’s solution is to convert water hyacinth into solid biofuel briquettes that can be used for household and commercial cooking, industrial heating, and potentially power generation. The production of briquettes is sustainable and easy to make, as there is abundant supply of the fast-growing plant,” said Yap, the startup’s Chief Executive Officer. Yap and Kee are both from Malaysia, while Pajotagana is from the Philippines.