Six Japanese companies, including Nippon Oil Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp. announced on February 9, 2009, their plan to set up a research body to develop non-food cellulosic bioethanol. The association aims to establish a production-process technology that enables the production of 200,000 kiloliters of bioethanol per year at 40 yen per liter (about 44 US cents), thus competing with conventional crude oil, by 2015.
The other three firms are Kajima Corp., Sapporo Engineering Ltd. and Toray Industries Inc. These six companies will bring their own elemental technologies to the table and aim to jointly develop a production-process with The University of Tokyo, Hokkaido University and Japan's research organizations for agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Japan's target under the Kyoto Protocol accomplishment plan is to shift 500,000 kl (crude oil equivalent) of its annual transportation fuel use to biofuel by fiscal 2010, and the oil industry has started introducing Bio Ethyl Tertial-Butyl Ether (Bio ETBE; synthesized from bioethanol and petroleum gas) on the market in an effort to meet this target. They started pilot sales of the product in 2007 and plan to begin full-scale introduction of 840,000 kl by 2010. 840,000 kl of Bio-ETBE is equivalent to approximately 360,000 kl of bioethanol.
Partnership of Six Corporations to Establish Bioethanol Research Association