Energy / Climate Change

May 9, 2008


New Conference to Draw Up Plan to Produce Low-Cost Cellulosic Biofuel

Keywords: Climate Change Government Manufacturing industry Renewable Energy University / Research institute 

As a joint initiative between government, industry, and academia, the Bio-fuel Technology Innovation Conference was established by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and its first meeting was held on November 21, 2007. The purpose of the conference is to formulate a technological innovation plan to efficiently produce biofuel from cellulosic biomass. The members from industry are 16 representatives from companies including Toyota Motor Corp., Nippon Oil Corp., Meiji Seika Kaisha Ltd., and Toray Industries Inc. Those from academia include people from the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kyoto University, Kobe University, and Kumamoto University.

Under its national strategy for biomass use, Japan is aiming to produce next-generation bioethanol at a cost of 100 yen (about 88 U.S. cents) per liter by 2015. The cost, however, has to be reduced to at least some 40 yen (about 35 cents), in view of its competitiveness against gasoline and the target price of the United States, which is 34 yen (about 30 cents) per liter. To achieve such a significant cost reduction in bioethanol production, a technological breakthrough is required, rather than just a continuation of conventional technologies, in addition to cost-cutting measures in the areas of feedstocks and enzymes.

The conference will formulate a plan to expand domestic biofuel production from untapped biomass resources, such as rice straw, which do not compete with food supply. This plan will include research and development, demonstration tests, and educational activities for promoting better understanding of biofuels. While pursuing a technology to utilize soft cellulose materials, the conference will also consider ways to avoid environmental destruction that might be caused by increased production of energy crops, and focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the entire lifecycle of biofuels.

Posted: 2008/05/09 11:47:43 AM