Japan's first bio jet
Fuel manufacturing plant
Start of domestic biofuel plan
Toward a technical alliance with the world's largest oil company, Chevron Group
In the summer of 2014, Akihiko Nagata, then director of business strategy, was in California, USA. Opposite Nagata is the key person in the joint venture of Chevron, the world's largest oil company.
At that time, Nagata faced a major challenge in advancing the biofuel business in Japan. I flew to America to solve it.
Euglena has been proclaiming since its listing on TSE Mothers in 2012. "By 2020, fly an airplane with fuel made from microalgae such as Euglena."
For airplanes and large vehicles (buses and trucks) where it is difficult to utilize alternative energies such as hydrogen and electricity, the realization of biofuels that can replace petroleum-derived fuels is possible from the perspective of the global environment and from the perspective of Japan, which has scarce resources. Is also strongly sought after.
In order to realize this future, it is necessary to have a manufacturing plant dedicated to biofuels that not only produces crude oil from microalgae such as Euglena, but also produces fuel from crude oil. It's the same mechanism as turning oil into gasoline or jet fuel at a refinery. However, Japan does not have an ASTM standard * 1 compliant biofuel manufacturing plant required to manufacture biojet fuel, and fuel manufacturing technology for designing a manufacturing plant that conforms to the ASTM standard was also introduced in Japan in 2014. There was no.
* 1: ASTM standard: A standard established by the American Society for Testing and Materials, which is the world's largest standardization body. Jet fuels used in aircraft worldwide are required to comply with ASTM standards.
"No matter how much raw materials are developed as they are, bio-jet fuel production cannot be achieved ..."
In order to establish a bio-jet fuel business, Nagata repeated discussions and investigations with Ota, a technical advisor of our company who is from Nippon Oil and is familiar with biofuels and the petroleum industry, and is considered to be compatible with the fats and oils of Midorimushi. We found manufacturing technology for jet and diesel fuel. Then, he headed to the west coast of the United States to build a relationship with Chevron, who possesses that technology.
However, our annual sales at that time were about 3 billion yen. It is a risky challenge for a venture company that has been in business for less than 10 years to build a fuel manufacturing plant that requires a huge amount of money. What's more, the Biofuels ISO Conversion technology required for biojet fuel production has never been licensed outside of US companies in the past. Moreover, we are not a fuel manufacturer. Is it possible for the world's largest oil company to license to a venture company with limited financial resources on an equal footing?
As a result of the negotiations, in May 2015, Nagata and Chevron Lummus Global LLC, a joint venture funded by Chevron, granted the technology license required to manufacture biofuels and engineered the basic design of equipment * 2. Realize the conclusion of the contract. Looking back on that time, Nagata says.
"We had various discussions with many people and received their support, but at the very end, we were young, and we wanted to respond to our desire to change the world ... Naniwabushi. This experience abroad was It must be great in future management. "
* 2: Since the technology for manufacturing jet diesel fuel, etc. from various biomass fats and oils disclosed by Chevron was compliant with the specifications and regulations for the US location, it is necessary to revise to Japanese regulations and JIS standards. It was necessary to recreate the basic design of.
"Domestic biofuel plan" to start moving
Even in Japan, there were a lot of problems that had to be solved for realization. One of them is land search. Since the production of biofuel is dangerous goods, the place where the plant can be constructed is limited, and it must be close to the airport where the biofuel will actually be refueled.
Who will design and operate the next one when it comes to construction in Japan? And who will carry it to the airport? Who will use it at the end ... Finding a partner company to realize bio-jet fuel flights in Japan was also a major issue.
Depending on the conditions, the plant can be constructed in an industrial area and an area close to the airport. It was difficult to find a candidate site that met the conditions, so I searched around while calling out to all local governments from Hokkaido in the east to Okinawa in the west. With the introduction of Yokohama City, we were able to decide on a vacant lot in the Asahi Glass Keihin Plant as the construction site. As other cooperating companies, ANA, Isuzu Motors, and Itochu Enex will jointly build a system for the realization of bio-jet fuel.
Nagata's tenacious negotiations were successful, and we were finally able to start the basic design for the demonstration plant in Japan.
And December 2015. With the cooperation of Yokohama City, Chiyoda Corporation, Itochu Enex, Isuzu Motors, and ANA, we announced the start of the "Domestic Biofuel Plan," a plan to put domestic biojets and diesel fuel into practical use toward 2020.
Through a technical tie-up with a Chevron subsidiary, we will build Japan's first biojet diesel fuel production demonstration plant, aiming to realize paid flights with biojet fuel and public road driving with biodiesel fuel with the cooperation of each company. Publicly declared.
The following year, on June 1, 2017, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a bio-manufacturing demonstration plant at the planned construction site in the Asahi Glass Keihin Plant.
Two and a half years to reach the target of 2020. The construction period has been confirmed by a contract contract with Chiyoda Corporation, and it is scheduled to be completed in October 2018 and start operation in the first half of 2019.
Nagata continues to carry on Japan's expectations and continue to pursue the commercialization of the biofuel business.
Posted in July 2017
-About the roadmap for commercialization of biofuels-
- Akihiko Nagata, Executive Vice President
I didn't want to create a reason why the bio-jet fuel business couldn't be realized in Japan by saying, "There is no such thing."
We will fulfill our responsibilities with a vision and execution ability that are unique to venture companies. "
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