The demonstration plant to manufacture biofuel from algae will begin operation in 2019. The following year it is scheduled to begin deliveries to the air transport industry, contributing to CO2 reduction.

“We will make Japan the leader in biofuel,” declared Mitsuru Izumo, president and representative director of euglena Co., Ltd. of Japan, at the ceremony marking the completion of the firm’s demonstration biofuel manufacturing plant in Yokohama on November 2, 2018. The plant manufactures jet fuel and diesel fuel for buses and trucks from a combination of microalgae (Euglenophyceae) and waste cooking oil. Annual production is 125 kiloliters. Full-scale production is slated to start in spring 2019, and the total investment is about 5.8 billion yen (US$ 53.2 million).

Slashing cost to one-hundredth

Manufactured biofuel will first be supplied to buses and trucks, and in 2020 plans call for deliveries of jet fuel to commercial flights by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA) of Japan. The firm hopes to introduce biofuel for aviation use globally, including the US, EU, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, China, and India. Worldwide, biofuels have already been used in about 150,000 commercial flights, but none in Japan.

President Izumo is confident, commenting that the company will “catch up to and surpass competitors worldwide.” Production capacity will be boosted to 250,000 kiloliters in 2025, dropping the per-liter manufacturing cost from the current 10,000 yen to only 100 yen.

“The most important points for users will be quality and cost,” adds Izumo. “We’ve solved the technology development issues.”

With the implementation of the Paris Agreement and adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the aviation industry is accelerating its efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has set a target to make 2020 the year of highest CO2 emissions for the industry overall, and hopes are high that biofuels can be effective in attaining that goal.

On the same date euglena also made a joint declaration for “GREEN OIL JAPAN,” together with companies and organizations including ANA, Chiyoda Corp. of Japan, and Isuzu Motors Ltd. of Japan. The goal is to seek other firms and organizations to cooperate in the manufacture and use of biofuels, promoting increased adoption as a means of contributing to SDG Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

The euglena demonstration plant, producing biofuel from microalgae (Euglenophyceae) and waste cooking oil. The firm hopes to accelerate the use of biofuel in Japan through extensive tie-ups with local government and other companies, under president Izumo (center).