Toray Industries, Inc. (headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; President: Akihiro Nikkaku; hereinafter referred to as “Toray” announced today that it has decided to establish a joint venture company with Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd. (headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; President: Daisuke Saiga, hereinafter referred to as “Mitsui Sugar”) for seeking business opportunities for manufacturing system of cellulosic sugar1), a raw material used for producing various biochemical products, from the surplus bagasse2) generated at sugar mills.
The technological demonstration is part of the research and technological development of bioprocess using membranes that combines Toray’s water treatment membrane and bio technologies.
Bioprocess using membranes is a technology that would enable the production of a high quality, low cost cellulosic sugar from inedible biomass while saving 50% energy in manufacturing by using water treatment membranes in the saccharificationand refining processes, and contributes to the realization of materials and chemical products made from inedible biomass.
Further, Toray and Mitsui Sugar will carry out the Demonstration Project for an Energy-Saving Cellulosic Sugar Production System using Bagasse in the Kingdom of Thailand under the International Energy Conservation Technology and System Demonstration Project of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and the project is aimed at examining the possibilities of commercialization of the cellulosic sugar production system.
Thailand is one of the foremost producers of sugarcane in the world and is the largest exporter of sugar in Asia. It has been promoting biomass-based businesses as well as research and technology development and is suitable for pursuing the demonstration project.
The demonstration plant of this project will have a capacity to handle 15 tons of bagasse per day (dry weight) and will manufacture about 4.2 tons of cellulosic sugar after going through the processes of pretreatment, enzymatic saccharification, and membrane separation.
The pilot plant will employ concentration technology that uses Toray’s water treatment membranes to produce high quality cellulosic sugar while conserving energy. Cellulosic sugar can be used as a raw material for producing various biochemical products such as ethanol, lactic acid and succinic acid, and this would enable the creation of a new supply chain from surplus bagasse to biochemical products.
Further, in addition to cellulosic sugar, the plant will manufacture polyphenol and oligosaccharide, which can be made into livestock feed, using the same raw material and process to raise the economic benefit of using bagasse and the company will pursue commercialization through the demonstration project.
Toray places environment as the linchpin of its business strategy so as to contribute to the realization of a sustainable low-carbon society, and under this management policy, the company has established itself as a pioneering comprehensive chemical manufacturer in Japan to promote LCM environment management based on the LCA concept.
As part of its endeavor, Toray will actively pursue open innovation between different industries related to bioconversion technology using membranes and drive forward the development of supply chain and provisioning of solutions.