Sekisui Chemical and INCJ Form Ethanol JV

28.04.2020 - Plastics manufacturer Sekisui Chemical and the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) have formed a joint venture to verify and commercialize combustible waste-to-ethanol technology.

Sekisui will hold 66% in the jv, called Sekisui Bio Refinery, with INCJ taking the remaining 34%. The companies will invest a maximum of 3 billion Yen into the venture, which aims to commercialize Sekisui’s BR ethanol technology that uses a microbial catalyst jointly developed with LanzaTech.

A verification plant will be established in Kuji City, Iwate with operations planned to start at the end of the 2021 fiscal year. This plant will receive about 20 t/d (one tenth) of the volume of municipal solid waste processed at a standard-scale disposal facility.

According to Sekisui, approximately 60 million t/y of waste is generated in Japan, with only some of it recycled and most incinerated or sent to landfill.

The Tokyo-headquartered producer said it will collaborate with INCJ, which is a public/private sector fund supervised by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, to support “strong collaborative” relationships with partners such as local municipalities, waste disposal companies, plant manufacturers and companies that use ethanol.

“This business aims to create a bio refinery eco system that is not dependent on fresh fossil resources with expectation of contributing to solving the global issues of reducing CO2 and recycling plastic waste,” said INCJ’s chairman and CEO Toshiyuki Shiga. “INCJ will collaborate with Sekisui Chemical to promote further open innovation combining multiple technologies for commercialization of this 'waste-to-resources' technology.”

The companies’ expectations are that the jv will eventually be able to produce ethanol to feed about 11 million t/y of petrochemical products in Japan. They anticipate that by about 2030, they will have installed ethanol conversion plants at waste disposal facilities across Japan. The country currently has about 1,200 waste disposal facilities.