In 2012, the company developed a prototype bioethanol plant on its property. The company collected udon noodle scraps from a large local noodle manufacturer. “With 3,307 pounds of udon scraps, we can produce about 53 gallons of bioethanol,” said Testuo Ozaki, a representative at Chiyoda Seisakujo.
The company noticed that there was still a lot of residue after producing bioethanol from udon waste. By using its expertise, the company built a biogas plant and further fermented the residue to produce methane gas. With methane gas, the company can produce annually about 180 GWh of electric power. “We started selling electricity to our local Shikoku Power Electric Company in December 2013,” said Ozaki.
Ehime prefecture, bordering Kagawa prefecture on the east, is the number one producer of mandarin oranges in Japan. Over ten years ago, the prefecture developed a biomass utilization plan to reduce green gas emissions and industrial waste while promoting locally-produced energy for local consumption and creating environmental jobs.
In 2008, the prefecture, Ehime University, and Nippon Steel Engineering Company teamed up together, with a grant awarded from the Ministry of Environment, to run a pilot project to transform orange waste into biofuel.
Nippon Steel Engineering constructed an ethanol bio-refinery at an orange juice processing plant owned by Ehime Beverage Inc., which collects most of the oranges harvested in the prefecture.
“About 20,000 tons of oranges are processed for juice production, of which 50 percent ends up as waste including seed, peel, and segment membrane,” said Sadanomi Minakuchi, an environmental technology engineer at the prefecture’s environmental department.
“We produced 12,839 gallons of ethanol from the orange waste we collected in 2013. We only ran the plant for two months — November and December. In Ehime, we harvest mandarin oranges only in the fall and not throughout the year like in California,” continued Minakuchi.
The research team has been testing various applications for orange waste-based ethanol and inspecting types of power equipment which can withstand corrosion by ethanol gasoline blends.
“The cost of producing orange ethanol is currently about $6.42 per gallon while one gallon of gasoline is $4.45 per gallon in Japan. We won’t be able to compete against gasoline now, but our goal is to provide orange ethanol as vehicle fuels under the “Ehime” brand.
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