Energy / Climate Change

November 30, 2006


RITE and Honda Develop Bio-Ethanol Production Technology

Keywords: Manufacturing industry Renewable Energy University / Research institute 

The Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) and Honda R&D Co., a Honda Motor Co. subsidiary, announced on September 14, 2006, that their cooperative research has resulted in technology able to produce bio-ethanol from cellulose and hemicellulose. Cellulose and hemicellulose are found in soft biomass such as plant leaves and stalks, including rice straw.

The newly developed Honda-Rita process, an integration of RITE's bio-technology and Honda's engineering technology, paves the way to bio-ethanol production from cellulose and hemicellulose. The process consists of the following operations: 1. Pretreatment to separate cellulose from soft-biomass; 2. Saccharification of cellulose and hemicellulose; 3. Conversion of sugar into ethanol using microorganisms; 4. Ethanol refinement.

Current technology produces fermentation inhibitors during the cellulose and hemicellulose separation process. These interfere with the function of microorganisms that convert sugar into alcohol and lead to extremely low ethanol yields. The RITE-Honda process utilizes a RITE microorganism strain, which efficiently converts sugar into alcohol, thereby improving the rate of alcohol conversion.

RITE and Honda will continue research for mass production and a demonstration project is envisioned in a pilot plant. They will also pursue further advancements to establish a bio-refinery for production of various industrial commodities, including automotive materials, from biomass.

Posted: 2006/11/30 09:23:03 AM
Japanese version