Episode 6

FUELING JET AIRCRAFT WITH MICROALGAE

Growing biofuel without farmlands


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Innovation Japan

FUELING JET AIRCRAFT WITH MICROALGAE

Growing biofuel without farmlands

Euglena, a type of algae, is a rare microorganism that combines the characteristics of plants and animals. Consequently, it grows by photosynthesis yet produces fat in its body that is suited to the production of jet fuel. In Japan, where researchers were the first in the world to succeed in large-scale cultivation of euglena, research is underway to use oil extracted from the microorganism as a biofuel, with the goal of using it to power aircraft in the future. As the need for energy that does not adversely impact the environment grows, expectations are high for the multifaceted potential of biofuel made from euglena that has been made possible by researchers in Japan, a nation that lacks energy resources.

00:16

As global warming increases, so too does the demand for environmentally-friendly energy.

Euglena, a type of microalga, has been gaining considerable attention as a potential planet-saving energy source.

However, worldwide research into mass cultivation of euglena and utilization of it as a source for biofuel were unsuccessful until recently.

00:44

Mitsuru Izumo
President
euglena Co., Ltd.

For the first time in the world, we succeeded in growing euglena outdoors in large quantities – and it’s not a coincidence.

Through the long development history of making Japanese fermented foods such as soy sauce and sake, we have acquired “state-of-art” skills for controlling microorganisms.

Euglena is an extremely difficult microorganism to mass culture. Because it lies at the bottom of the food chain, a variety of organisms seek them out to eat up.

However, Japan’s accumulated experience enabled us to control even euglena.

01:23

Kengo Suzuki, Ph. D.
Director
euglena Co., Ltd.

Following the success of mass cultivation, our next goal is the production of biofuel.

Euglena is a type of plant, but it’s possible to extract the energy they store in the form of oil. The oil they make can then be used as diesel fuel or jet fuel.

Euglena biofuel is already being used to power a diesel engine vehicle. The next goal is to fly a jet aircraft.

01:56

Mitsuru Izumo
President
euglena Co., Ltd.

Our technology has the potential to rewrite the world’s fuel map. If Japan, a nation that lacks petroleum resources, were to become self-sufficient in jet fuel, that accomplishment would surprise people around the world.

What’s more, unlike fossil fuels, euglena fuel doesn’t add to the CO2 in the atmosphere.

In addition, compared to standard biofuels, euglena fuel does not use up valuable farmland.

We can grow euglena anywhere there’s CO2 and space for a culturing pool, even in the desert.

We look forward to spreading euglena to solve global warming and energy issues.

This video was created in collaboration with euglena Co., Ltd.