Recycling for the WorldOffering Biomass Solutions to
Resource and Climate Challenges

Biomass is a renewable source of energy and offers the same potential as petroleum, which is the raw material used to make plastics. It is increasingly being seen as an energy resource to replace petroleum. Unlike petroleum fuels, the use of plastics made from biomass does not increase the impact on the environment and are considered carbon neutral. In other words, the CO2 released when incinerating bio-based plastics for waste disposal is offset by the amount of CO2 the plants used to make those plastics absorbed during photosynthesis. There is particular interest in effectively using the non-edible parts of plants as biomass.
Toray, Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd. and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. have started a technological demonstration project that manufactures cellulosic sugar from bagasse, a residue that is produced from sugarcane juice extraction. There are high expectations for cellulosic sugar as a common raw material for use in producing various bio-based chemical products. The project has been operating since July 2016 as part of the International Energy Conservation Technology and System Demonstration Project of Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

The process for manufacturing sugar from bagasse uses Toray's water treatment membrane technology, enabling the production of high-quality cellulosic sugar at a low cost, while using 50% less energy in manufacturing.

Previously, the sole use for surplus bagasse was as a fuel source to be combusted for heat and power generation; it was difficult to recycle without generating further waste. By recycling bagasse, the project aims to expand the use of this carbon neutral biomass raw material, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of various manufacturing activities.

 

VOICEMessage from a Project Partner

Establishing Technology to Completely Utilize Sugarcane and Expand Biomass Use

Mitsui Sugar's role in this project is to demonstrate technologies for manufacturing polyphenols produced as a by-product from the saccharification of bagasse, and develop the market for the polyphenols. For the last two decades, we have been producing various extracts from the sugar processing, in order to completely utilize sugarcane. Sugarcane is an environmentally friendly crop that offers superior carbon fixation, and it is a sustainable resource when used as biomass generated by sugar processing plants. With the help of Toray's technology, we hope we establish new technologies to fully utilize sugarcane as biomass, thereby expanding its applications.

Toshikazu Kawai General Manager, R&D Division, Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd.

Toshikazu KawaiGeneral Manager, R&D Division, Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd.