The biofuel production facility is capable of continuous preprocessing.

In celebration of the plant’s inauguration, a ceremony attended by the various parties affiliated with the project, including officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Hyogo Prefectural Government, took place today at the site.

Construction of the demonstration plant began in April this year as part of an MAFF project. Each of the three participating companies leveraged its specific areas of expertise and took charge of different processes at the plant: MHI overseeing the entire plant including development of preprocessing and saccharification, Hakutsuru Sake Brewing handling fermentation, and Kansai Chemical Engineering in charge of distillation and purification.

For preprocessing and saccharification, MHI adopted a method combining hydrothermal treatment and enzymatic saccharification – technologies the company developed jointly with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The new method enables input of several kinds of feedstock – soft cellulose – into a moderate temperature and pressure reactor; and reactor output is separated into two parts – carbon 5 and 6 sugar portions – on a continuous basis. The separated carbon 5 and 6 portions are saccharified by different enzymes. As only hot water is added during preprocessing, influence of the fermentation inhibitor is minimal and waste utilization is possible, as preliminary verification has already executed. Employing this method will result in significant cost reduction and enhanced operational safety due to reduced use of water and heat in the preprocessing reactor.