August 27, 2006

JAPAN: Cellulosic Ethanol Initiative Launched

Starved of sugar crops for fermentation, Japan will be reliant on other feedstocks to ferment into biofuels. According to an article that appeared in the Japan TImes Online, the Environment Ministry sees the benefits of developing a bioethanol industry based on the conversion of cellulosic biomass.

Initially they are focusing on the use of woody biomass but it is not unreasonable to assume that other biomass, like rice straw, auto fluff, tires, and municipal solid waste could soon enter their bioenergy planning. A recent article is attached in its entirety...

Wood chips to power 40,000 vehicles in biomass fuel initiative
The Japan Times Online

The Environment Ministry said Thursday it will launch a project to mass produce environmentally friendly biomass fuel made from materials like wood chips to power about 40,000 motor vehicles annually in metropolitan areas.

The ministry also plans to help build about 100 special gas stations in urban areas in the Kanto and Kansai regions, where people can fill up their cars with the biofuel, which is free of greenhouse-gas emissions, ministry officials said.

The biofuel can be used for vehicles that run on regular gasoline.

The ministry plans to ask the Finance Ministry to allocate about 10 billion yen to finance the project in the budget for fiscal 2007 and to consider tax incentives related to the project, the officials said.

In the project, the ministry will produce the so-called E3 fuel, or gasoline containing 3 percent bioethanol made of wood, at the world's first facility for producing ethanol from wood refuse being built in Osaka Prefecture, they said.

The E3 fuel supply will reach 47,000 kiloliters per year, they said.

The officials said Japan lags behind many other countries in promoting biomass energy, which is useful in reducing global warming, and the plan is aimed at raising awareness about the importance of alternative energy.

The ministry plans to assist corporations entering the biofuel business and automakers developing vehicles that can run on E10 fuel, or gasoline containing 10 percent bioethanol, the officials said.

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