Adapted from Celunol launches commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Japan by C. Scott Miller, BIOconversion Blog, Jan. 21, 2007
BioEthanol Japan, on January 16, became the world’s first company to produce cellulosic ethanol from wood construction waste on a commercial basis.
The plant in Osaka Prefecture has an annual capacity of 1.4 million liters (about 370,000 US gallons). In 2008, it plans to boost production to 4 million liters (1 million US gallons).
BioEthanol Japan was established in 2004 by five companies, including construction firm Taisei Corp., trading house Marubeni Corp., Daiei Inter Nature System, and beermaker Sapporo Breweries Ltd. Marubeni is supplying the process technology, which it has licensed from US-based Celunol, to BioEthanol Japan
Celunol's technology is based on the metabolic engineering of microorganisms, a set of genetically engineered strains of Escherichia coli bacteria that can ferment both C6 (hexose) and C5 (pentose) sugars present in cellulosic biomass into ethanol, which are essentially all of the sugars found in cellulosic biomass.
This plant is about one-fourth the size of the plant that Celunol is building in Jennings. It should provide some additional data that will help in the operation of the Jennings plant. I missed this announcement when it came out and am posting it because of its importance. This places the Celunol technology near the top of the technology heap, along with that of Iogen and Abengoa Biorefinery. Iogen just received some financing from the Canadian government to help in upgrading its demonstration plant. It will be a race to see if Celunol gets it US plant in operation before Abengoa Bioenergy gets its similar sized plant in operation in Spain. I have a feeling that the Celunol technology is a little better, beacause it can currently handle wood chips and the other two operate on straw. That says nothing about the cost of the three processes.