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Report: 16 Major Japanese Firms to Partner on Developing Low-Cost Technology for Cellulosic Ethanol

The Nikkei reports that 16 major Japanese firms, including Toyota Motor Corp, Nippon Oil Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., will partner with universities and government agencies in a major effort to develop technology for low cost mass production of cellulosic ethanol from rice straw/hulls and used construction materials.

The goal is to drive down the production cost of cellulosic bioethanol to ¥40 per liter (US$1.367 per gallon US). The Nikkei cited no sources, and did not have a target date for the beginning of commercial scale production.

Production of bioethanol from sugar cane, seen as the most cost-effective material, currently costs about 140 yen per liter in Japan, somewhat higher than the retail price of gasoline. But existing technology can only succeed in cutting the cost to 100 yen.

Other participants in the bioethanol project include domestic companies from the petrochemical, biotechnology, food, plant engineering, agricultural machinery and automotive sectors.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reportedly will set up a joint panel on the production of biofuel on Wednesday, with companies, universities and others slated to launch studies on the topic and experiments next fiscal year.



Their opponent?
The laws of thermodynamics.

Guess who wins?

Their opponent? The laws of thermodynamics. Guess who wins?

Lordy oh Lordy are you tiresome.


This is another project with high profile contenders. We are going to see an explosion of new initiatives to commercialize all kinds of biofuels. It is almost certain to be good business now that crude oil is set to stay beyond $90 a barrel with the new OPEC policy that officially is endorsing a $100 target. There is absolutely nothing else that is more important for the incentive to develop alternatives to fossils than a high oil price. High oil prices should also make coal more expensive because you use diesel to mine and move the coal. I do not know by how much though.

David R.

Looks like the price for Sake is gong out the window.

Jim G.

sake doesn't come from "rice straw/hulls and used construction materials"


I'm not sure Japan is the place to do biofuels. They can only feed themselves at considerable cost.

However, Japanese designed biofuels in other countries makes sense.

Also, the Japanese at least are prepared to drive smaller cars and so are not planning biofuels for use in 6000 lb SUVs.
Which makes more sense.

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