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Toray and Mitsui Sugar announce Thai cellulosic sugar demo JV

Toray Industries, Inc., has announced that it is to establish Cellulosic Biomass Technology Co., Ltd in Thailand, a joint venture company with Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd. The aim is to perform a "technological demonstration of cellulosic sugar-manufacturing" system using membranes and commercialise the technology.

Toray Industries, Inc. (Toray), a global integrated chemical industry group has announced that it is to establish Cellulosic Biomass Technology Co., Ltd (CBT) in Thailand, a joint-venture company with Japan-headed sugar major Mitsui Sugar Co. Ltd. The aim is to perform a “technological demonstration of cellulosic sugar-manufacturing” system using membranes from surplus bagasse at sugar mills and commercialise the technology.

The technological demonstration is part of the research and technological development of a bioprocess using membranes that combines Toray’s water treatment membrane and biotechnologies. According to Toray the technology could enable the production of a high quality, low cost cellulosic sugar from inedible biomass while saving 50 percent energy in manufacturing by using water treatment membranes in the saccharification and refining processes.

Through CBT, of which Toray has 67 percent and Mitsui Sugar 33 percent, the duo will carry out a demonstration of “Energy-Saving Cellulosic Sugar Production System using Bagasse” in Thailand under an International Energy Conservation Technology and System Demonstration Project of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) while examining the possibilities of commercialisation of the cellulosic sugar production system.

Cellulosic feedstock for fuel and feed

Thailand is one of the foremost producers of sugarcane in the world and is the largest exporter of sugar in Asia. It has been promoting biomass-based businesses as well as research and technology development and is suitable for pursuing the demonstration project.

The demonstration plant will have a capacity to handle 15 tonnes of bagasse per day (dry weight) and will manufacture about 4.2 tonnes of cellulosic sugar after going through the processes of pretreatment, enzymatic saccharification, and membrane separation. The plant will employ concentration technology that uses Toray’s water treatment membranes to produce high quality cellulosic sugar while conserving energy.

Cellulosic sugar can be used as a raw material for producing various biochemical products such as ethanol, lactic acid and succinic acid, and this would enable the creation of a new supply chain from surplus bagasse to biochemical products.

Furthermore, in addition to cellulosic sugar, the plant will manufacture polyphenol and oligosaccharide, which can be made into livestock feed, using the same raw material and process to raise the economic benefit of using bagasse and the company will pursue commercialisation through the demonstration project.


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