Firms agree to develop cellulosic ethanol as SAF feedstock in Japan
Nippon Paper Industries Co. Ltd., Sumitomo Corp. and Green Earth Institute Co. Ltd. agreed to begin trilateral consideration of the first commercial production of cellulosic ethanol from woody biomass in Japan and its development into biochemical products.
Ethanol is currently attracting attention in countries worldwide as a feedstock for biofuels such as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and chemicals with low environmental impact.
Cellulosic ethanol made from woody biomass is classified as second-generation ethanol and has the potential to resolve various problems in Japan, a country with abundant forest resources, by allowing it to utilize its domestic-forest resources to ensure its energy security and energy self-sufficiency.
Accordingly, the three companies will be studying the possibility of starting production of several tens of millions of liters per year of ethanol derived from domestic timber at Nippon Paper’s mills in fiscal 2027.
The ethanol produced will be mainly used as feedstock for domestically produced SAF, while at the same time consideration will be given to carbon-recycling initiatives such as carbon capture and utilization, using carbon-neutral CO2 generated collaterally during ethanol production, and effective utilization of residues from the fermentation process.
Nippon Paper will accelerate its market entry into the biochemical field as a “comprehensive biomass company shaping the future with trees” by quickly establishing mass-production technology and a full-scale supply system for wood-based ethanol of several tens of millions of liters, utilizing the pulp-and-paper-manufacturing technology it has cultivated over the years in order to help fight against global warming.
Sumitomo Corp. will contribute to this study by consolidating the knowledge and skills acquired through various businesses, including the development and deployment of carbon-free energy using hydrogen, ammonia and next-generation biomass raw fuel gas, and by promoting the use of green chemicals to construct a circular economy.
GEI will contribute by utilizing the biorefinery technology it has cultivated to date to establish a commercial production plant for the manufacturing of ethanol from nonedible biomass of several tens of millions of liters per year, a capacity not currently available domestically, and thereby promote the social implementation of biomanufacturing in Japan.
The three companies will leverage their mutual strengths to realize Japan’s first entirely domestic cellulosic ethanol commercial plant utilizing domestic timber to assist Japan with integrating low-carbon biofuels into society and ensuring its energy security.