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Press Release

NEDO Demonstrates the Effectiveness of a Bioethanol Production Technology that Utilizes Bagasse as a Feedstock in Thailand

– Technologically and financially feasible commercial production model established –
June  1,2017
New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
Tsukishima Kikai Co., Ltd.
JFE Engineering Corporation

As part of a NEDO project, Tsukishima Kikai Co., Ltd. and JFE Engineering Corporation demonstrated the effectiveness of a bioethanol production technology that uses an on-site enzyme production technology and utilizes bagasse as feedstock at a bioethanol production plant constructed in Saraburi, Thailand. The demonstration succeeded in establishing the technological and financial feasibility of the commercial production model. Moving forward, NEDO expects the use of this technology would be disseminated and expanded not only in the Kingdom of Thailand, but also in the wider Southeast Asian region, and hopes it will contribute to further progress in energy production from unused resources and to greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

  • plant's photo
    Figure: The plant being used to produce ethanol from bagasse

  • Project period: FY 2012-FY2016
  • Facility scale: Bagasse processing capacity of 1,300 t/year
  • Bioethanol production scale: 100 ㎘/year
  • Budget scale: Approximately ¥1.2 billion (NEDO expense of approximately ¥1 billion)
  • Contractors: Tsukishima Kikai Co., Ltd., JFE Engineering Corporation
  • Installation place: Thai Roong Ruang Energy Co., Ltd. in Saraburi, Thailand

1.Overview

While energy consumption in the Kingdom of Thailand has been increasing at a remarkable rate due to rapid economic development in recent years, the country relies on imported energy for most of its energy supply, making the establishment of countermeasures in the event of an energy supply shortage an urgent issue. Thailand has decided on a policy to increase the production of bioethanol to support a stable energy supply. Since Thailand is one of the top sugarcane producing countries in the world, a massive amount of bagasse, a substance composed of the pomace produced after sugarcane is pressed to manufacture sugar, has been produced at the sugar mills. Although 60-80% of the bagasse supply is used by the plants as boiler fuel, the remaining bagasse has typically been disposed of as excess stock without being used effectively. In terms of bioethanol production that uses cellulosic biomass resources such as bagasse, the costs of the feedstock and enzymes take up most of the production expenses, thus, the cost reduction is the crucial issue for the dissemination.

Under these circumstances, as part of a NEDO project, Tsukishima Kikai Co., Ltd. and JFE Engineering Corporation, operating under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB)*1 of Thailand, have constructed the bioethanol production plant in Saraburi, Thailand and demonstrated the effectiveness of a bioethanol production technology that uses an enzyme-producing microorganism*2-enabled on-site enzyme production technology*3 and SSF (Simultaneous Saccharification & fermentation) technology*4 to utilize excess bagasse as a feedstock, which is discharged in massive volumes as a by-product in a process to produce sugar Based on the insights and data obtained from this demonstration, the companies have established a commercial production model that is not only technologically but also financially feasible.

In order to disseminate the results of this demonstration project on the effectiveness of a bioethanol production technology, NEDO invited stakeholders mainly from sugar production industry that could be potential business operators and partners in a bagasse ethanol production field to a dissemination seminar held in Bangkok, Thailand on 1 June, 2017.

2.Results of the Demonstration

<Establishment of Technology that Enables Ethanol Production from Bagasse Using On-site Enzyme Production Technology>

  • 【1】 On-site Enzyme Production Technology: Significant Reduction in the Costs of Enzymes that are
    Usually Purchased through In-House Production of Enzymes

An enzyme called cellulase is indispensable in the process of decomposing plant fibers into sugar to efficiently produce ethanol from cellulose biomass, including bagasse. As enzymes are expensive, the cost of cellulase is said to account for 1/4-1/2 of the total ethanol production cost. NEDO has demonstrated a technology for producing enzymes without any contamination at the ethanol production facility that was considered to bedifficult to implement before this project, and has confirmed that the enzyme cost can be reduced by more than 1/5 compared to procuring commercially available enzymes for ethanol production in Thailand.*5 As a result of evaluating a commercial model based on these results, NEDO has concluded that enzyme production is possible at a cost low enough to ensure sufficient profitability at an ethanol price of 26 Thai baht/ℓ, which is the reference price set by the Thai government.

  • 【2】 Development of Conditions for Microbial Culture of Useful Enzyme Production Bacteria
    (Acremonium cellulolyticus C-1)

In order to efficiently conduct enzyme production, the useful bacteria jointly-developed by Tsukishima Kikai Co., Ltd. and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) was used, and appropriate conditions for microbial culturing to make full use of their capabilities were established at a facility adjacent to the sugar production plant that was simulating actual commercialization.

  • 【3】Establishment of a Production Process that Accommodates Seasonal Changes in the Characteristics
    of Bagasse with Commercial Machines Designed in Response

The components of sugarcane, which is an agricultural product, change depending on the season in which it is harvested. The components of bagasse, which is a by-product of sugarcane, also gradually changes while it is stored after being discharged. In order to accommodate such changes in the components of the feedstock, we optimized operating conditions (temperature and pressure) according with the season through demonstration operations, as well as rebuilt and improved the plant as needed to design commercial machines that can stably operate throughout the year.

【Glossary】

*1 The Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB)
An organization under the Office of Industrial Economics (OIE) of Thailand that oversees sugarcane and sugar production. OCSB is the acronym standing for the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board.
*2 Enzyme-producing microorganism
Acremonium cellulolyticus C-1, which was jointly developed by Tsukishima Kikai Co., Ltd. and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).
*3 On-site enzyme production technology
A technology for producing enzymes within the ethanol production facility. Enzymes are a type of protein that microorganisms produce. In this project with a catalytic effect, cellulase enzymes that hydrolyze cellulose were produced and used.
*4 SSF (Simultaneous Saccharification & Fermentation) technology
A technology to perform sugar conversion and fermentation inside a single reaction chamber.
*5 Enzyme cost can be reduced by more than 1/5 compared to procuring commercially available enzymes for ethanol production in Thailand
Based on data compiled by Tsukishima Kikai Co., Ltd.

3.For more information, please contact:

NEDO New Energy Technology Department
Contact Person: Suzuki Tel: +81-44-520-5271­

Tsukishima Kikai Co., Ltd. Industrial Business Division, Process Design Dept.
Contact Person: Tanaka Tel: +81-3-5560-6560­

JFE Engineering Corporation Energy Industries Engineering Sector, Strategic International Business Development
Contact Person: Furuya Tel: 81-45-505-3690­