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The Japanese CO2 Free Hydrogen Supply Chain Promotion Organization HySTRA (Members: Iwatani Corporation, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Shell Japan Corporation, Power Supply Development Corportion) has launched the first liquefied hydrogen carrier ship. It will transport liquefied hydrogen cooled to minus 253 ° C, leading to a volume of 1/800 of the gas at ambient temperature, safely and in large quantities over long distances. The liquefied hydrogen tank has a vacuum insulated double-shell structure with a holding volume of approximately 1,250 m3 and is scheduled to be completed in autumn 2020. After completion, the ship will transport liquefied hydrogen produced in Australia to Japan. Total length is 116 m, width 19 m, depth 4.5 m at full load, gross tonnage 8,000 t. Propulsion is by Diesel engine electric power generation, and voyage speed is 13 knots.
NEDO news release, December 11, 2019
© NEDO Japan
Based on extracted DNA samples and shotgun sequencing collected from stool of 82 untreated rheumatoid arthritis patients and 42 healthy subjects, the team of OKADA Toshihiro at Osaka University School of Medicine has found that some species of Prevotella are significantly increased in the microbiome of rheumatoid arthritis patients. It could not be concluded whether the increase of Prevotella is the cause or the result of disease. However, since the stool of patients at an early stage was analyzed, the finding may be used as a risk prediction marker. As there was no significant difference in the metagenomic diversity between patients with rheumatoid arthritis and healthy individuals, dysbiosis did not seem to be related to rheumatoid arthritis.
Nikkei Biotech news release, November 11, 2019
Metagen Co. and MOLCURE Co., two Japanese startups, will established an AI-based system that predicts optimal weight loss using information about an individual’s intestinal environment. The AI system will provide guidance and support for improving lifestyle habits (eating and regular exercise) according to the intestinal environment of the individual.
Metagen (Metabologenomics) is active in microbiome analysis, Molcure onantibody-based libraries for metabolite analysis.
The project is supported by NEDO.
NEDO news release, November 14, 2019
In a demonstration project, Tottori Prefecture aims to build a biomass energy utilization energy which does not rely any longer on feed-in tariffs and subsidies. In this project, biomass steam boilers will be installed that use building waste chips as fuel, and waste fungal beds for mushroom cultivation.
In addition, the program includes six Business Evaluation projects:
1. Business feasibility evaluation of an energy supply system in an urban area based on liquefied biomethane derived from livestock manure: Hokkaido Air Water Co.
2. Evaluation of feasibility of local biomass bring-in systems and a smart biomass network: Kitahiroshima-cho, Hiroshima University
3. Evaluation of the feasibility of biomass fuel supply utilizing local production resources such as spent fungus: Chubu Electric Power Co., Sea Energy Co.
4. Feasibility evaluation of increasing yield of methane fermentation utilizing high temperature solubilization treatment and lactic acid fermentation technology, for the spread of on-site small methane fermentation system: Vios Inc., Kyoto University Wakayama
5. Business feasibility of local biomass energy recycling by recycling of glycerin-containing waste liquid: Biofuels Giken Kogyo Co., Yamaguchi University
6. Evaluation of business feasibility of a dry-type methane fermentation batch system using sugar factory sludge and beef cattle manure as main raw materials: North Soil Development Co.
The overall budget for FY2019 is 1.25 billion yen
NEDO news release, October 29, 2019
In addition to establishing integrated production technology for pure bio-jet fuel, supply chain construction including raw material procurement, product supply, commercialization schemes and economic efficiency will be considered in order to promote the realization of such market in Japan. Four themes were adopted, and contractors nominated:
1. Gasification / FT synthesis technology (raw materials are cracked into a gas mainly composed of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and the desired fuel is produced using a catalyst)
Edison Power Co., JXTG Energy Co., Toyama University
2. Microalgae-based biojet fuel (marine diatom green algae)
Power Development Co.
3. Alcohol to JET (ATJ) technology
Mitsui & Co., JXTG Energy Co., All Nippon Airways Co.
4. HEFA technology (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids from food waste)
Nippon Steel Engineering Co., Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Daiki Axis Co.
The budget for FY2019 is 2.4 billion yen
NEDO news release, October 30, 2019
NEDO establishes Bioeconomy Promotion Office, adds bioeconomic unit at Technology Strategic Research Center
The overall strategic goal is “to realize the world’s most advanced bio economy society in 2030”. New budget requests for FY2020 include 2 billion yen for “Development of bio-based production technology that accelerates the realization of carbon recycling”, 850 million yen for “Development of technology related to cellulose nanofibers” and 1.83 billion yen for the “Plastic Effective Utilization Advancement Project”.
NEDO news release, October 30, 2019
A test facility for synthesizing methane from CO2 and hydrogen was completed on the Koshijihara plant site of Nagaoka Mine in Niigata Prefecture. Tests and continuous operation will be conducted through the end of 2019. In this test facility, methane is produced by synthesizing CO2 produced during natural gas production at the Koshijihara Plant and hydrogen produced by water electrolysis by Kokusai Oil Development Teishi Co.
NEDO news release, October 16, 2019
In collaboration with the startup company Spiber https://www.spiber.jp, Japan’s sportswear producer Goldwin has offered a web-based lottery for the purchase of 50 pieces of a ski jacket named “moon parka” made from 3 layers, the outermost one of Spiber’s “spider silk” protein. Price with tax is 150,000 ¥ (about 1260 €). The two companies had already released a limited edition of 250 T-shirts made from 17.5% “spider silk” and 82.5% cotton by weight in June this year. The price was 25,000 ¥ (about 200 €). In November 2018, Spiber had announced the construction of a production plant for its “spider silk” proteins in Rayong, Thailand, operational in 2021.
Spiber news release, August 29, 2019
Under a contract from NEDO, the company has put into operation in its Okayama plant a woody biomass heat generator, using surplus woody biomass such as bark produced in local areas. Liquid natural gas (LNG) and heat from woody biomass will be used, according to fluctuations in fuel prices and procurement conditions, for the company’s drying process of diatomaceous earth products. By operating the biomass facility stably, fossil fuel consumption is expected to be reduced by 20% throughout the Okayama Plant, and carbon dioxide generation is expected to be reduced by 1,000 tons per year
Showa Chemical news release, September 4, 2019
The website https://bio-sta.jp/contains information on latest breeding results and explains in much detail the technology behind these results. Projects include deletion of target genes which result in tomatoes with high GABA content, potatoes without solanine, and red sea bream with enhanced muscle meat (myostatin knock-out). The secretariat of BioStation is located at the Japan Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Food Industry Technology Promotion Association (JATAFF), a public corporation affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The Japanese government sees genome editing technology as a revolutionary “game changer” that will be a driving force for a future bioeconomy. BioStation is intended to increase public acceptance in order to socially implement genome-edited tomatoes, potatoes, red sea bream, etc. that are about to be put to the markets.
Nikkei Biotech news release, September 9, 2019
Eight companies have joined Shimadzu Corporation in an attempt to obtain better reproducible data in the life sciences such as drug-related research. 53 ring tests among these companies had shown that reproducibility of data was indeed low. 8 companies (iPS Portal, Earth Environment Service, NTT DATA, Olympus, Kataoka Manufacturing, Taisei Corporation, Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems, Shimadzu Corporation) have now initiated this new effort to develop next-generation laboratories where “transparency”, “reproducibility” and “efficiency” of life-science related data will be widely improved.
(COTO = communication tool oriented)
Shimadzu news release, May 30, 2019
In this project, it is planned to build a data infrastructure system for collecting and sharing data which correlate optical and electrochemical sensor data that have not yet been used at bio-production sites (bioproduction management using convolutional data). An AI system will be developed that predicts the optimal culture method hitherto not possible with human experience and intuition, with the aim to establish a method that significantly increases culture efficiency providing a common base for production management in the bioeconomy market.
PI is Chitose Research Institute, contractors are
Ajinomoto Co., Inc. (Food)
Kyowa Hakko Bio Co., Ltd. (food and pharmaceuticals)
Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (Chemicals)
Kaneka Corporation (Chemicals / Pharmaceuticals)
NRI System Techno Co., Ltd. (System)
Nikon Instech Co., Ltd. (Device)
Nagaoka University of Technology (data acquisition development)
The University of Tokyo (data analysis)
The Project period is FY2019 up to FY2021
NEDO news release, Sept. 6, 2019
Chitose press release, Sept. 10, 2019
Katsuhiro SHIRATAKE of Nagoya University and coworkers from RIKEN have achieved the development of a high-fructose tomato by disrupting the INVINH gene, encoding an invertase inhibitor. As genome editing tools, a CRISPR / Cas9 vector and Target-AID vector targeting INVINH were used. In some transformants, the increase in sugar content was up to 2fold.
Lecture at 37th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society for Plant Cell Molecular Biology in Kyoto, September 8, 2019
NEDO has announced that acetylated ligno cellulose nanofiber (CNF) show high biodegradability (~90% in the OECD TG301C test), bringing this material closer to wide applications. CNF are cellulose fibers with a diameter of 3 – 10 nm obtained from woody biomass such as bamboo or other wood. They are already produced by companies such as Nippon Paper at a scale of several 100 tons. Through acetylation and continuous melt-kneading, CNF-reinforced resin materials can be produced which show high thermostability and are lighter and stronger than steel. Their CNF component is biodegradable. A CNF-based composite material, Starcel®from Kyoto’s PMC Corp., is already used for the soles of running shoes Gel-Kayano®25 produced by ASICS Co., a major Japanese sport shoes manufacturer with global reach.
NEDO news release, August 8, 2019
NEDO news release, June 1, 2018
JBA’s Bioindustry Award 2019 goes to Kaneka and RIKEN researchers for the development of a PHBH polymer biodegradable on soil and in seawater
The poly-hexanoate-butyrate (PHBH) copolymer is produced by Kaneka from plant oil using a recombinant strain of Cupriavidus necator at a capacity of currently 1,000 tons, with plans to increase production to 5,000 and later to 100,000 tons a year. PHBH materials decompose not only on soil, but also in seawater (90% within 6 months at 30°C) and have obtained the “OK Biodegradable Marine” certificate from TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium NV. The biopolymer-producing strain is based on joint research by Yoshiharu Doi, former Professor of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Director at RIKEN, and five Kaneka researchers who will share the award of 3 million ¥ (~25,000 €).
JBA news release, July 29, 2019
Mitsubishi’s Life Science Institute (LSI) will start clinical trial on treatment of spinal cord injury with Muse cells
LSI announced that a domestic clinical trial for spinal cord injury in the subacute phase will be started using the Muse cell product “CL2020”.. The company has been conducting clinical trials already for three other diseases, acute myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction, and epidermolysis bullosa, and aims to apply for approval in 2020 and 2021 for any of the four diseases. Muse cells are pluripotent stem cells discovered by Prof. Mari Dezawa of Tohoku University. They occur in mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) of bone marrow and other organs, and they can differentiate into any ectoderm, mesoderm or endoderm. They can be stored through cryopreservation.
Mitsubishi LSI news release, July 10, 2019
The “smart cell industry” program of NEDO (2016-2020) aims to produce industrial materials from plants and microorganisms in economically viable yields based on metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. The five new topics (2019-2020) are
- Microbial production of polyamide materials (Toray)
- Cholesterol esterase derived from recombinant Burkholderia stabilis (Asahi Kasei Pharma)
- Microbial production of ergothioneine, a rare amino acid (Nagase Sangyo)
- Soy sauce koji mold with high content of long-chain ceramide (Fukuoka Soy Sauce Brewing Association)
- Enzyme engineering for production of chemicals with high added value (Amano Enzymes)
NEDO news release, May 7, 2019
High yield production of tetrahydropapaveroline, a pharmaceutical raw material, using synthetic biology and metabolic engineering
The group of Akihiko KONDO at Kobe University has used computer simulations, newly designed metabolic pathways and introduction of an engineered silkworm enzyme into E. coli to produce tetrahydropapaveroline (THP), a precursor compound of various benzylisoquinoline alkaloids which are used as analgesics. The project was carried out within NEDO’s “smart cell industry” program.
NEDO news release, May 7, 2019
Nature Communications (2019) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09610-2
As indicated by Koichi AKAISHI, Chief Policy officer of the Cabinet Office, the government’s new bio-strategy will include support of company investments in the following 10 areas:
(1) high-performance biomaterials
(3) sustainable primary production systems (agriculture)
(4) organic waste and organic wastewater treatment
(5) life improvement, healthcare and functional food
(6) digital medicine
(7) bioproduction systems (medicine, regenerative medicine, cell and gene therapy)
(8) bioproduction system (industrial products)
(9) bioanalysis and research tools
(10) large-size wood buildings
There will be a roadmap for regulations, standards and standardization necessary for market creation in each area, to be published in December 2019.
Nikkei Biotech news release, May 31, 2019
RIKEN held an opening ceremony on April 19, 2019, for a collaborative laboratory on natural products and chemical biology at Hangzhou Future Science and Technology Park. The collaborative laboratory will identify useful substances from natural compounds collected from microorganisms and plants, and conduct research that will lead to drug discovery. Since China is a Kampo/TCM country, there is a large demand for such research, and RIKEN will use this collaborative laboratory as a hub for Chinese natural drug chemistry research, as well as fostering exchange of young science and technology personnel from Japan and China.
RIKEN news release, April 26, 2019