Nikkei. Petroleum and petrochemical company Idemitsu Kosan and Japan’s Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) recently formed a joint research team to develop a way to mass-produce cellulosic biobutanol.
The partners aim to build a test plant around 2013 and begin full-on production around 2020.
The process for making biobutanol starts with rice straw, corn stalks and other inedible vegetable matter, which is converted into sugar and placed in a fermenting vat with bacteria genetically engineered by RITE. The bacteria turn the sugar into biobutanol. Idemitsu and RITE aim to develop a process for making 300 liters of the fuel from every ton of vegetable matter.
The partners reckon that mass production will lower the price of biobutanol to about 30-40 yen a liter, about the same as ethanol, making it an affordable alternative to gas and petrochemicals. They will consider building a company out of the research team.
RITE has been collaborating with Honda on the production of cellulosic ethanol and also biobutanol since 2006. (Earlier post.)
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