The target value of biomass fuel consumption by transport industry to be achieved by FY2010 designated by Japanese government was 500,000 KL/year in crude oil equivalent. This figure is consisted of 10,000~20,000 KL of biodiesel fuel and 480,000~490,000 KL of bioethanol. As for FY 2007, total production of biomass fuels scored 6,200 KL, and production cost was 124 yen per liter in average.
Various efforts have been made to produce and utilize biodiesel fuel from used food oil collected from general households and food processing/catering industries. These efforts are mainly promoted by the system of so-called °»local production and utilization°… created by municipalities, NPO, and business companies of the local communities concerened. From now on, it seems very important to take advantage of strong points of every district of Japan, in order to develop systems for production and consumption of biodiesel fuel best suited for the specific local community.
Yokohama City has launched a project, in November 2009, to expand the utilization of biodiesel fuel made from used food oil. During FY2009, the city intends to collect used food oil from twenty two public elementary schools in Kanazawa ward to produce biodiesel fuel that will be used at the water recycling center of Kanazawa ward as a substitute of heavy oil for the diesel electricity generator. The city plans to expand the project in FY2010 and thereafter to every wards of the city, where 200 KL of used oil would be collected and turned into biodiesel fuel. The city estimated the project would reduce the city°«s CO2 emission by 542 ton annually.
At present, production of biodiesel fuel has been done, mainly, by adopting °»Fatty Acid Methyl Ester°… method. The drawback of this method is that it necessarily generates glycerin as by-product that has been disposed as an industrial waste. Nippon Shokubai Co. made an announcement, in October 2009, that the company has succeeded in developing a high performance catalyst to produce acrolein, which is an intermediate substance generated in the process to produce acrylic acid, by utilizing the glycerin.
This new technology has been qualified for NEDO°«s innovative technology development grants of FY2009. Consequently, Nippon Shokubai plans to build a pilot plant as a next step. In this way, the glycerin will be turned into acrylic acid that will be utilized for producing absorbent polymers and polymeric flocculant materials for sewage treatment. The new technology has opened a way to utilize glycerin, which so far has been disposed as waste, for producing useful high polymer material. In addition it will also add a thrust for production and utilization of biodiesel fuel.
Fig. Production Scheme of biodiesel fuel from used food oil
Fig. Production Scheme of Acrylic Acid from Glycerin
Cf. Biomass White Paper 2009 (issued by NPO Biomass Industry Network), Kankyo Shimbun, website of Nippon Shokubai Co.
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