Coal and Energy Solution Department /
Coal & Environment Research Laboratory
A Cleaner Way to Use Coal
Idemitsu is currently researching ways of reducing CO2 emissions from coal, an inexpensive and stable source of energy. One method uses black pellets, which are produced through the semi-carbonization of biomass. By burning a 50-50 mixture of coal and black pellets, CO2 emissions can be reduced to the approximate level of liquid natural gas. To ensure the continued use of existing energy sources, Idemitsu is actively involved in the business of supplying black pellets, as well as the development of other sustainable energy sources.
He Believes in Coal
“Idemitsu is about the only company with a research laboratory dedicated to coal,” Takuya Furuzono of the Coal & Environment Research Laboratory proudly states. As an energy source, coal emits more CO2 than either petroleum or natural gas. Yet, black pellets have garnered much attention due to their potential for reducing CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants. Moreover, the woody biomass from which the pellets are made originates from scrap wood and fast-growing trees, so deforestation is not an issue. Idemitsu recently established a pilot plant in Vietnam, which is now manufacturing samples and accumulating valuable expertise as it prepares for this new business.
Price Is an Issue
In the black-pellet business, high cost is an obstacle that must be overcome. The price of raw materials accounts for a large part of the problem, so Idemitsu is researching affordable alternatives to woody biomass. “We are currently conducting verification tests in the cultivation of sorghum, a kind of grass,” Takuya relates. Using a variety of approaches, Idemitsu continues its efforts to provide customers with the best products at the lowest possible price.
Starting from Scratch
To date, black-pellet technologies have not been adopted by commercial businesses, which presents Takuya with both challenges and opportunities. “When you’re starting from scratch, you make new discoveries every day, and that feels very satisfying,” he asserts. Each time a problem arises with a new prototype, production facilities and methods are modified until a solution is found. Takuya also relies heavily on Idemitsu’s coal application technologies in his efforts to develop the black-pellet business.
Leading the Way
Amid a growing international demand for decarbonization, biomass technology has become increasingly important. “I want to contribute to the supply of clean energy by developing higher-quality, lower-cost black pellets,” Takuya declares. To do this, he is becoming a top authority in the field, and his expertise is sure to guide efforts in Japan and overseas. It is likely that power generated using black pellets developed by Takuya Furuzono will one day be delivered around the world.