July 15, 2009

Joint Research to Develop Bioethanol Production Technology

Nippon Paper Chemicals Co., Ltd.
Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd.

Nippon Paper Chemicals Co., Ltd. (Head office: 1-2-2 Hitotsubashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Capital: 3 billion yen; President and Representative Director: Toshio Inoue) and Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. (Head office: 1-1-1 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo; Capital: 107.2 billion yen; President and Representative Director: Yaichi Kimura) have conducted a feasibility study on biomass ethanol production since April last year, which revealed several technological challenges regarding the second-generation biomass ethanol production using woody materials.
Aiming to resolve these issues, the two companies teamed up with to respond to a call for parties interested in undertaking the 2009 Leading-Edge Biomass Energy Technology Research and Development, one of the areas covered by the new energy technology research and development projects by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). On July 7, it was announced that the team had been selected to undertake the research.
Nippon Paper Chemicals and Cosmo Oil will conduct research for two years together with the University of Tokyo and Kyushu University, studying the efficient production of ethanol from woody biomass using the sulfite delignification process (*).
(1) Topic: Constructing Rational Ethanol Production Process from Woody Biomass, Based on Sulfite Delignification Technology
(2) Project cost: About 20 million yen per year (funded by subsidies)
(3) Period: 2009-2010 (two years)
(4) Description of research: Pre-treatment technologies that apply the sulfite delignification method used for paper making are to be developed, to produce sugar, a raw material of ethanol, from woody biomass.
(5) Researchers:
Nippon Paper Chemical Co., Ltd.
Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd.
The University of Tokyo (Professor Yuji Matsumoto, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences)
Kyushu University (Professor Hiroyuki Wariishi, Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences)
*Sulfite delignification process
One of the pulp manufacturing methods, used only by Nippon Paper Chemical Co., Ltd. for industrial production in Japan. When lignin, an adhesive factor in woody material, is made soluble, it is separated from other factors (cellulose and hemicellulose) and hydrolytic clearage of hemicelluloce results. This makes the method effective as a pre-treatment technology in biomass ethanol production.