From sake brewing to energy production: How innovation in biofuels is coming from unlikely places

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) Group has  launched “SPECTRA” a new online media which will offer a wide range of stories that communicate this theme to a global audience.

It’s an exciting, albeit confusing and risky age for the energy sector, as researchers turn to new sources for clean, renewable forms of energy. For the layperson, the infrastructures of solar and wind power are easy to perceive as “clean,” but there are a host of others that come into play, as well as behind-the-scenes infrastructural and energy logistics oriented technologies involved.
Biofuels are one example of the unique synergy that arises when energy developers think “outside the box”. In shifting the focus to fermentation, researchers find themselves relying on sake brewers to produce the biofuels they need. Biofuels, which have existed for as long as automobiles, are now being produced en masse in light of volatile oil prices and global warming concerns. Whereas fossil fuels are developed from decomposed organisms that have been buried for millions of years, biofuels are developed from living or recently deceased organisms through a chemical reaction process that involves fermentation and heat to break down molecules in the plants. Much work is being done today on sustainably sourcing biofuels in a way that is both cost and energy efficient. Sake brewers are joining efforts with energy companies and researchers to drive those efforts.