Energy / Climate Change

March 26, 2010


Pilot Plant Starts Producing Bioethanol from Soft Cellulose Biomass

Keywords: Government Manufacturing industry Renewable Energy University / Research institute 

The construction of Japan's first facility to demonstrate bioethanol production from soft cellulose biomass, such as cereal straw, was completed in Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, and became operational on November 30, 2009. A partnership of three companies -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Hakutsuru Sake Brewing Co., and Kansai Chemical Engineering Co. -- is undertaking the project, taking advantage of each other's specific expertise, as part of a program promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to establish technologies for utilizing soft cellulose materials.

The production of bioethanol, an alternative fuel mostly produced from food crops, is partly responsible for an increase in food prices. The demonstration project, however, uses non-food, cellulosic plant materials as feedstock, although this is less efficient in producing bioethanol. A new technology co-developed with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) is expected to improve production efficiency, while at the same time reducing costs. The project also intends to make refinery byproducts for use on farmland, and is looking for collaborative relationships with local agricultural enterprises.

The three companies worked on the pilot production in cooperation with relevant companies and organizations, with the aim of demonstrating a technology to produce bioethanol at less than 90 yen (about 98 U.S. cents) per liter by the end of 2010.

Joint Research to Develop Cellulose Bio-Ethanol by 2015 (Related JFS article)
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. global website

Posted: 2010/03/26 06:00:15 AM