Saturday, July 21, 2012

No. 568: Developing biofuel from seaweeds for the reconstruction of the devastated Tohoku district (July 21, 2012)

University professors are actively engaged in the development of biofuel from seaweeds to build a new industry in the Tohoku district devastated by the March 11 disaster last year. Professor Minoru Sato of Tohoku University started to extract ethanol from seaweeds. He liquefied seaweeds using special equipment and fermented the liquefied seaweeds to produce ethanol with the help of microorganism. He plans to produce 30 g of ethanol from 1 kg of seaweeds. Because the produced ethanol has a concentration of merely 2%, he will develop a technology to separate water content to increase the concentration. Professor Naoto Urano of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology will look for microorganisms effective for the production of ethanol in the soil of the devastated area and improve them using the knowledge of genetic engineering.

Professor Kazuo Miyashita of Hokkaido University is developing foods using fucoxanthin contained in seaweeds. Fucoxanthin is reportedly helpful to facilitate the burning of fat and effective to prevent metabolic syndrome. Extracted fucoxanthin will be powdered and the powdered fucoxanthin will be mixed in noodles and baked cakes in alliance with local food processing companies to develop new products. Tokyo University is working on building an aquafarming system highly resistant to a disaster. Kyoto University is trying to develop an agent to adsorb heavy metals using seashells. University of Tsukuba is culturing seaweeds capable of producing petroleum component. The Japanese government allocated 3.5 billion yen to develop new marine industries in the district.   

Professor Naoto Urano of Tokyo University of Marine Science
and Technology talks about producing ethanol from seaweeds

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