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Toray Industries to establish joint venture with Mitsui Sugar in Thailand

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Toray Industries, Inc., based in Tokyo, has established a joint venture company with Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd., also headquartered in Tokyo, to seek business opportunities for manufacturing cellulosic sugar, a raw material used for producing various biochemical products, from the surplus bagasse generated at sugar mills.

The technological demonstration is part of the research and technological development of bioprocess using membranes that combines Toray’s water treatment membrane and bio technologies.

Bioprocess using membranes is a technology that would enable the production of a high-quality, low-cost cellulosic sugar from inedible biomass while saving 50% energy in manufacturing by using water treatment membranes in the saccharification and refining processes, and contributes to the realisation of materials and chemical products made from inedible biomass.

Toray and Mitsui Sugar will carry out the demonstration project for an energy-saving cellulosic sugar production system using bagasse in Thailand under the International Energy Conservation Technology and System Demonstration Project of Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

The project aims to examine the potential commercialisation of the cellulosic sugar production system.

Thailand is one of the foremost producers of sugarcane in the world and is the largest exporter of sugar in Asia.

The demonstration plant will have a capacity to handle 15 tonnes of bagasse per day (dry weight) and will manufacture about 4.2 tonnes of cellulosic sugar after going through the processes of pre-treatment, enzymatic saccharification and membrane separation.

The pilot plant will employ concentration technology that uses Toray’s water treatment membranes to produce high-quality cellulosic sugar while conserving energy.

Cellulosic sugar can be used as a raw material for producing various biochemical products such as ethanol, lactic acid and succinic acid, and this would enable the creation of a new supply chain from surplus bagasse to biochemical products.

Further, in addition to cellulosic sugar, the plant will manufacture polyphenol and oligosaccharide, which can be made into livestock feed, using the same raw material and process to raise the economic benefit of using bagasse.

The joint venture will pursue commercialisation through the demonstration project.

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