Nippon Oil and Hitachi aim at mass-producing microbe-derived biofuel

Major Japanese oil wholesaler Nippon Oil and Hitachi subsidiary Hitachi Plant Technologies are developing a technology that’s supposed to make it possible to mass-produce eco-friendly jet fuel from Euglena, single-celled organisms that live in ponds and lakes.

To be more exact, both companies are cooperating with and acquired shares in a Tokyo-based venture called Euglena, Inc., which is trying to find a way to extract oil from these organisms to produce fuel.

The venture says they already have a culturing system in place that can be used to grow Euglena efficiently, adding their production yield is superior to crops usually used to produce biofuel, i. e. corn or sugarcane. The current goal is to push down production costs per liter in a test plant to $0.80 per liter in order to be able to compete with regular jet fuel as far as prices are concerned. Another option, according to Euglena, is to use the biofuel for buses.

The company says mass-producing Euglena-derived biofuel should be possible by 2015.

Via The Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]