Nippon Steel to Process Food Waste into Ethanol

Nippon Steel to Process Food Waste into Ethanol

Nippon Steel Corp. has announced it will launch a pilot project to process food waste into ethanol, at Kitakyushu EcoTown in Kitakyushu City, southern Japan. The project, which is scheduled to begin April 2007, is part of the Local Biomass Energy Systematization Project commissioned by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization. Nippon Steel will entrust the task of establishing a system to sort out and collect food waste to Kitakyushu City, and the task of developing technologies to implement the sorted collection system to Nishihara Co., a waste management company.

Carbohydrates contained in rice and bread make up a large proportion of food waste, and the project aims to demonstrate a new recycling system that converts these carbohydrates into sugar, which is fermented into ethanol. Leftover food will be collected from supermarkets, restaurants, schools and hospitals. It is estimated that 10 tons of food waste will produce 397 liters of absolute ethanol per day. The ethanol will be processed into 3% Ethanol Blend Gasoline (E3 gasoline) and used as a fuel for government vehicles belonging to Kitakyushu City.

To minimize costs, the ethanol production plant will use waste heat from an existing incineration facility that has not so far been effectively utilized, and the residue left after ethanol recovery will be burned in this incinerator.

Construction of the ethanol production plant will start in September 2006.