NYK Line in joint research to use sorghum for biomass power generation

NYK Line is collaborating with the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo, and Idemitsu Kosan to conduct joint research on the cultivation of sorghum for biomass power generation fuel that can be co-fired with coal, thus seeking to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from coal-fired power plants.  According to the March 3 announcement, the research will be conducted on land from the Idemitsu-owned Ensham Coal Mine in Queensland, Australia. 

The demand for co-firing of coal and biomass fuel at coal-fired power plants is expected to increase in the future, from the standpoint of reducing GHG. The parties will focus on sorghum, an annual Gramineae grass plant, as a raw material for biomass fuel, and will carry out joint research on selecting the optimal variety and establishing cultivation methods that match the characteristics of the vegetation. 

The parties will also utilize the genome breeding technology, gene analysis, cultivation technology knowledge, etc. possessed by the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences to select varieties and establish cultivation methods.

Since sorghum can be harvested about three months after sowing, it can be harvested multiple times a year. In addition, because it is resistant to drought and has high environmental adaptability, it can be expected to grow even in harsh environments. 

Moreover, there is no competition with food applications, so the plant is expected to be one of the promising raw materials that can contribute to the stable supply of biomass power generation fuel.

In a test conducted by Idemitsu last year at the Ensham Coal Mine on sorghum cultivation for fuel use, the smooth growth of sorghum in the area for use as fuel was confirmed. 

In this new joint research, the parties will further develop the previous test, conduct cultivation tests on 17 pre-selected sorghum varieties, select varieties suitable for power generation fuel with higher yield and higher calorific value than the conventional varieties, and attempt to establish an effective cultivation method in the area.

In the future, the parties will utilize the results of the joint research to build a supply chain for the production, transportation, and marketing of biomass fuel for coal co-firing that will contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions from coal-fired power plants.

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