Reduce / Reuse / Recycle

February 16, 2005


Researchers Aim for Bioethanol Production from Waste Paper

Keywords: Climate Change Environmental Technology Non-manufacturing industry Reduce / Reuse / Recycle Renewable Energy University / Research institute 

Shingoshu Co., a package material manufacturer based in Shiga Prefecture in western Japan, is developing a technology to produce bioethanol from waste paper and other materials by using cellulolytic yeast which is genetically engineered from cellulose. The joint research is being conducted jointly with Ritsumeikan University, Kobe University and Energen, a company that develops and sells biomass energy. The initiative was selected by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) in April 2004 as a designated project to curb global warming.

Since bioethanol is of plant origin, the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted when it is blended with gasoline and burned is not counted as greenhouse gas emissions. Some countries have already been blending gasoline with bioethanol produced from such materials as sugar cane. In Japan, a blended fuel containing three-percent bioethanol was introduced in fiscal 2004. The MOE would like to see a nationwide supply system of blended fuels by 2012 and 10-percent bioethanol blended fuel in the future.

Production of bioethanol from sugar cane and corn is costly; it requires large facilities, and Japan would need to import the raw materials. In contrast, the technology currently under development uses waste paper that cannot otherwise be recycled, which makes it possible to reduce costs and to use resources effectively. The existing bioethanol manufacturing methods require much time and involve high costs for the processes of fermenting and distilling starch. By using a special kind of bacteria, the new technology can drastically shorten the processes.

Shingoshu is developing the technology, aiming to enter the market in 2007, and is expecting an annual production of 36,500 liters of bioethanol by 2012, which would mean an annual reduction of CO2 emissions by about 51,700 tons.

Posted: 2005/02/16 09:12:29 AM
Japanese version