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Sekisui Chemical forms JV to commercialize waste-to-ethanol technology

| By Mary Bailey

Sekisui Chemical Co. (Osaka, Japan; and INCJ, Ltd. have established a joint venture (JV) called Sekisui Bio Refinery Co. Ltd. with the aim of verification and commercialization of the technology converting combustible waste into ethanol using the microbial catalyst jointly developed by Sekisui Chemical and LanzaTech (the BR ethanol technology). Sekisui’s work with LanzaTech to process unsorted unrecyclable waste into ethanol was first announced in 2017. Since then, Sekisui has recruited partners and investigated business models by utilizing project supported by the Ministry of the Environment (Carbon Cycle Society Model Demonstration Project) in order to achieve the practical implementation and commercialization of this technology.

Sekisui is also working on chemical recycling and waste-utilization projects with Muroran Institute of Technology and Sumitomo Chemical, on projects related to catalytic recycling, and   a process that produces polyolefins from waste materials, respectively.

For the JV to conduct the final stages of verification of BR ethanol technology for future implementation and commercialization, a verification plant will be established in Kuji City, Iwate. It is planned that operation for verification project will start at the end of fiscal 2021. At the verification plant, approximately one tenth (approx. 20t/day) of the volume of municipal solid waste processed at a standard-scale waste disposal facility will be received from an existing waste disposal facility and then used as a raw material to produce ethanol. Partners such as local municipalities, waste disposal-related companies and plant manufacturers will be widely recruited. Ethanol produced at the verification plant will be supplied to many companies in various industries that are interested in this technology for the assessment of the use of the ethanol in various products and businesses. Through these initiatives, the JV aims to achieve full-scale commercialization of BR ethanol technology.

INCJ, Ltd. Chairman and CEO: Toshiyuki Shiga, commented:  “This business aims to create a biorefinery ecosystem that is not dependent on fresh fossil resources with expectation of contributing to solving the global issues of reducing CO2 and recycling plastic waste. INCJ will collaborate with Sekisui Chemical to promote further open innovation combining multiple technologies for commercialization of this “waste to resources” technology.”