2010 | Achievement and Award
Development of the Highly-efficient Production Technology of Ethanol from Sea Algae - A use of nonfood biomass will resolve energy issues -
A research group led by Professor Minoru Sato at Graduate School of Agriculture, Tohoku University and Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc. have developed the efficient production technology of ethanol from sea algae.
We have depended on energy mostly from fossil fuels of which depletion and global worming caused by CO2 emissions have been concerned. Alternative energy has been expected to be developed. One of candidate energy resources is ethanol as biofuel made form biomass. However, it is still fresh that food prices increased due to the use of food resources including corns and soy beans to make bio-ethanol. The production technology of bio-ethanol using nonfood biomass has been expected to be developed.
Especially, brown algae exist in costal areas in the world whose production volume is equivalent to that of rainforests, and have been the most expected less-competitive biomass for food. However, the ethanol production from sea algae has been difficult and not applicable in researches because of different components from terrestrial plants. A large amount of sea algae flow into a seawater cooling system at thermal power plants, and result in being disposed. The findings show that brown algae with the largest production volume among huge algae in the ocean can be used to make bio-ethanol as biofuel and that the production process does not include high-power consumption drying and chipping into fine powder. This allows the efficient production of bio-ethanol through successive multistage fermentation processes for complex components. The achievement will help the practical use of sea algae flowed into thermal power plants. The new technology is applicable to various algae including green and red algae, and has a potential to contribute to resolving energy issues in the world as well as in Japan.
Tohoku University and Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc. have filed a patent for the research result.
[Contact] (About research)
Professor Minoru Sato
Graduate School of Agriculture, Tohoku University
Address: 1-1 Amamiya-machi, Tsutsumidori, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi, 981-8555, Japan
TEL: +81-22-717-8736, FAX: +81-22-717-8739
E-mail: msato＊bios.tohoku.ac.jp (Replace * with @)
(About the patent)
Intellectual Property Division, Tohoku University Office of Cooperative Research and Development
Address: 2-1-1 Katahira Aoba-ku Sendai, Miyagi, 980-8577, Japan
TEL: +81-22-217-6033, FAX: +81-22-217-6047
E-mail : honnma＊rpip.tohoku.ac.jp (Replace * with @)