Japan-based algae- and algae-derived products manufacturer Euglena Co. Ltd, has held an inauguration ceremony of its advanced biofuels demonstration plant in the Keihin coastal area of Tsurumi, Yokohama City. The demonstration plant will start full-scale operation in the spring of 2019 to begin the production of renewable diesel and jet fuels based on the microalgae Euglena and used cooking oil (UCO).
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Founded in 2005, Euglena Co. Ltd (Euglena) was first in the world to succeed in establishing outdoor mass culture technology of the edible microalgae “Midorimushi” (Euglena sp) on Ishigakijima, Japan. In addition to developing and selling functional foods and cosmetics utilizing Euglena and Chlorella microalgae produced at Ishigakijima, the company is also conducting research on the production of biofuels in Japan.
Domestic biofuels programme
In cooperation with the City of Yokohama, Chiyoda Corporation, Itochu Enex Co., Ltd. (Itochu Enex), Isuzu Motors Corporation (Isuzu Motors), ANA Holdings Corporation (ANA), a domestic biofuels programme was drafted and launched in December 2015 with the goal to build the country’s first advanced biofuels facility to develop and demonstrate the feasibility of renewable diesel and jet fuels in transportation.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the 125 000 litre per annum demonstration plant was held on June 1, 2017, within the compound of Asahi Glass Corporation, Inc., (AGC) Keihin facility. The approximately JPY 5.8 billion (≈ US$51.5 million) investment includes subsidies from Kanagawa Prefecture and Yokohama City and uses the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process, a technology licensed from the US technology developers Chevron Lummus Global, Inc (CLG), and Applied Research Associates Inc (ARA).
Isuzu Motors to run shuttle bus on renewable diesel
The demonstration plant was completed on October 31, 2018, and Euglena expects to begin full-scale production at the plant in early 2019. The next-generation renewable diesel fuel is a part of “Research on the practical application of next-generation biodiesel” project that started in June 2014 in cooperation with Isuzu Motors.
A performance test using next-generation renewable diesel fuel was carried out with neat fuel, 100 percent without blending, and the test confirmed the fuel can be used as a 100 percent drop-in without changing the engine.
In response to this result, Isuzu will start a demonstration run by regular operation of the shuttle bus between Isuzu Fujisawa factory and Shonandi station, using renewable diesel from the demonstration plant beginning in December 2018.
Green Oil Japan launched
To mark the completion of the demonstration plant, Euglena together with the City of Yokohama, Chiyoda Corporation, Itochu Enex Co., Ltd. (Itochu Enex), Isuzu Motors Corporation (Isuzu Motors), ANA Holdings Corporation (ANA) and Hiroshima Automobile Industry, Academia and Government Collaboration Promotion Council (Hirojiren) held a completion ceremony on November 2, 2018.
The partners also launched the “Green Oil Japan” declaration to introduce advanced biofuels produced at the demonstration plant to the road, maritime, and aviation transportation sectors by 2020 and garner interest for additional advanced biofuel manufacturing and usage in Japan. This includes conducting the first commercial flight using its biojet fuel by 2020.
Furthermore, Euglena plans to prepare a commercial production system that manufactures 250 million litres per annum of biojet and renewable diesel fuel at JPY 100 per litre (≈ US$0.88) by 2025 and aims to have the capacity supply 1 billion litres by 2030.