Japan’s Idemitsu, Zen-noh tie up on SAF feedstock

  • : Biofuels
  • 24/04/11

Japanese refiner Idemitsu has agreed to collaborate with Zen-noh Grain, a US subsidiary of Japan's national federation of agricultural co-operative associations (Zen-noh), to secure feedstock to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Idemitsu will work together with Louisiana-based Zen-noh Grain to establish an SAF supply chain, by developing various types of its feedstocks in North America and bringing some of them to Japan to produce SAF, Idemitsu announced on 11 April.

Under the deal, the companies plan to extract oil from soybeans, which Zen-noh handles in Japan and the US, and process it to SAF by using hydrotreated esters and fatty acids (Hefa) technology. The firms are also aiming to develop other non-edible oilseed feedstocks, such as camelina sativa, carinata and winter rapeseed, as off-season soybean crops in North America, while studying possible uses for the leftover residue after extraction of oil from pongamia in Japan.

Idemitsu is gearing up efforts to secure sufficient SAF feedstocks to meet its SAF output target of 500mn litres/yr by 2030, by utilising Hefa and alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) technologies. The company plans to start up its first 100mn l/yr ATJ plant at its Chiba refinery in the April 2026-March 2027 fiscal year. It is also considering Hefa SAF production at its Tokuyama petrochemical complex.

Japan's demand for SAF is expected to continue rising, to meet its net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 goal. Demand is expected to reach 1.71bn l/yr by 2030, with Japan's trade and industry ministry (Meti) planning to mandate that SAF make up at least 10pc of total jet fuel consumption by volume. Meti forecasts SAF supplies to be 1.92bn l/yr, but there is uncertainty because of feedstock availability and technology development.

A number of Japanese firms are attempting to secure used cooking oil (UCO), as UCO is potentially a key feedstock in SAF production. But its supply remains limited. Around 380,000t of UCO was collected in Japan during the April 2021-March 2022 fiscal year, according to the country's federation for UCO recycling co-operatives, UCO Japan. Out of this, 200,000t was used for livestock feed, mostly for chicken, while 120,000t was exported to mainly Europe.

To ensure a stable supply of SAF feedstocks, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) is planning to conduct a feasibility study to produce SAF from general waste in Tokyo, or industrial waste from inside and outside Tokyo if securing suitable general waste is difficult. The TMG aims to select around three projects through a public tender, which is open for bids from 4-25 April, with a plan to provide up to ¥25mn ($163,169) of subsidies per project.

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more