Tie-Up for Cellulosic Bioethanol Development in Japan

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Picture of a sugarcane farm and a sign board that reads 'Grown for Biofuel'.

Nippon Paper, Sumitomo Corporation, and Green Earth Institute have entered into a partnership to consider the commercial production of cellulosic bioethanol from woody biomass in Japan and further develop it into biochemical products.

Bioethanol, especially cellulosic ethanol, is becoming more popular worldwide as a source of renewable energy and a raw material for making low-impact biofuels and chemicals. This type of ethanol, made from woody biomass, is considered second-generation and has the potential to address energy security and self-sufficiency issues in countries with abundant forest resources, such as Japan.

Three companies will investigate the possibility of producing tens of thousands of kiloliters of bioethanol per year from domestic timber at Nippon Paper's mills starting in fiscal 2027. The main goal is to support a decarbonised society by using domestic resources and mainly bioethanol as a feedstock for domestically produced SAF.

The companies will also consider initiatives for carbon recycling, such as using carbon-neutral CO2 generated during bioethanol production and effectively utilising residues from the fermentation process, to further contribute to a decarbonised society.

Nippon Paper wants to get into the biochemical market as a "comprehensive biomass company shaping the future with trees" by quickly setting up mass production technology and a full-scale supply system for wood-based bioethanol of tens of thousands of kiloliters. The company wants to use its technology for making pulp and paper to help get rid of carbon emissions and fight global warming.

Sumitomo Corporation is working to develop sustainable energy cycle businesses to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The company will help with the study by using its knowledge and experience from different businesses, such as carbon-free energy using hydrogen, ammonia, and next-generation biomass raw fuel gas, and promoting the use of green chemicals to create a circular economy.

GEI aims to contribute to a decarbonised society as a company "Fostering Green Technology and Walking with the Earth" by utilising its biorefinery technology to establish a commercial production plant for bioethanol from non-edible biomass. This will have a capacity of tens of thousands of kiloliters, not currently available domestically, to promote the use of biomanufacturing in Japan. The three companies will work together to build Japan's first domestic cellulosic bioethanol plant using domestic wood. The goal is to integrate low-carbon biofuels into society and ensure energy security.

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Source: Nippon Paper


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