BioEthanol Japan on Tuesday became the world’s first company to produce cellulosic ethanol from wood construction waste on a commercial basis.
The plant in Osaka Prefecture has an annual capacity of 1.4 million liters (about 370,000 gallons US). In 2008, it plans to boost production to 4 million liters (1 million gallons).
BioEthanol Japan was established in 2004 by five companies, including construction firm Taisei Corp., major trading house Marubeni Corp., Daiei Inter Nature System, and beermaker Sapporo Breweries Ltd.
Marubeni is supplying the process technology, which it has licensed from US-based Celunol (earlier post), to BioEthanol Japan. Marubeni is also supplying the same technology for a wood ethanol project in Asia, and is also involved in a bioethanol project using sugar cane in Thailand run by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).
Celunol is a privately held company headquartered in Dedham, Massachusetts moving rapidly to commercialize its proprietary technology for producing ethanol from a wide array of cellulosic biomass feedstocks, including bagasse, agricultural waste, wood products and dedicated energy crops.
The key element of Celunol’s technology is genetically engineered Escherichia coli bacteria that can ferment both C6 (hexose) and C5 (pentose) sugars present in cellulosic biomass.
BioEthanol Japan will begin supplying automobile fuel for certification tests being conducted by the Ministry of Environment.
Japan’s government has launched an initiative eventually to substitute 10% of its annual gasoline requirements, or about 6 million kiloliters (1.6 billion gallons US), with domestically produced biofuels.