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Date : September 26, 2008

Video Report:September 26, 2008【NIIGATA CITY Press Tour (Rice Plant Bioethanol)】

post date : 2013.08.23

Niigata, “the Home of Rice” has 63% food self-sufficiency – Steps towards food and energy security
〜Rice Flour Production and Consumption, and Bio Ethanol from Rice Plants〜



■Developing “Rice Plant Bioethanol” --- local energy production and consumption using rice (September 26, 2008)  



Bio ethanol production is becoming popular here and there all over the world. It is developed using local agricultural products, for instance, maize in the United States and sugarcane in Brazil. In fact, it is becoming a controversial issue inviting various opinions and criticism.


In Niigata, they use rice, the main agricultural product, and have launched a demonstration project, in which they grow rice, produce ethanol from it, and sell the ethanol-compound gasoline. The project is led by JA Zen-Noh Niigata (Agricultural Cooperative Association) in an association of the regional council member organizations including Niigata City and Prefecture.


In the program for FY2008, the strain “Hokuriku 193”, a high yielding variety, is currently being grown in the rice paddies in the cooperation of local farmers. At the end of this year, an ethanol production plant will appear at the Niigata East Port and start its operation, then the bio ethanol produced will be mixed with gasoline at the Zen-Noh Niigata Petroleum Station in the Port. Finally, in March 2009, the end product will be supplied at the JA-SS gas stations in the region


In the program, it is expected that the cultivation of the high yielding “Hokuriku 193” strain, will be 2250 tons, and bio ethanol production 1,000kl. The project also aims to contribute to the rice production adjustment, as it uses fallow rice fields and rice that is not intended as a staple food.




- Niigata City Mayor Akira Shinoda


In terms of energy resources, Niigata was once Japan’s largest production center of crude oil. In Niigata City, there is a move to produce new clean energy. The bio fuel plant, which is now being built by JA Zen-noh Niigata, is getting into operation.


- JA Zen-noh Niigata Bioethanol Plant (Corp Chemical Niigata Plant)


We produce bioethanol using the same method as brewing Japanese sake.
Rice consists of starch. Rice powder is liquefied in the two small tanks you see in the first row.


The liquefied starch will be converted to sugar in the next two large tanks. Then it will be fermented in the yellow tank with a ladder. The fermentation will end at around 8%, a lower level of alcohol concentration than that of Japanese sake.


That is a tank for fermentation broth, which will be at 40% of alcohol concentration, roughly same level as that of shochu, distilled spirit made from e.g. sweet potatoes.


The alcohol will be concentrated up to 80% through a rectifying tower as well as a distillation tower. Then it will be continuously concentrated up to 99.5% through a dewatering filter.


We expect to produce approx. 22-kl bioethanol a week, put it into a tank, then send it to the fuel base by truck.



- Mr. Tsuguru Ishiyama, Director in charge of the bioethanol development project, JA Zen-noh Niigata


We produce bioethanol from this particular variety of rice named Hokuriku 193. It is a high yielding variety.


We are currently growing this particular variety in 300 ha of rice paddies in the area. We expect to harvest 2300 tons of rice in October this year.


A total of 2.6 million ha of land area is devoted to rice paddies in Japan. But 40% of this area is not being used for growing rice. If these bare rice paddies are left as they are, they will become permanently unusable and utterly barren waste.


We need to be prepared for an expected food crisis in future and keep the rice paddies in workable condition for whenever we need to use them for growing rice.


We will be the first in the world to sell mixed gasoline with bioethanol produced from rice. Our goal is to produce 600kl of ethanol-blended gasoline in 2030, and we will work hard to make it happen.

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