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Osaka Gas believes that technologies serve as the foundation of corporate competitiveness, and considers R&D to be one of the most important elements in the strategy to make a difference.
For this reason, Osaka Gas works actively on R&D and commercialization of new technologies, as presented below.
In the sugar industry, factories produce large amounts of bagasse (residues of sugarcane), which is used principally as boiler fuel. Osaka Gas is working on developing carbonized bagasse and other innovative functional materials from bagasse.
Challenges faced when using plant biomass generally include collection and transport-related difficulties and high cost. Osaka Gas noticed the sugar industry in which factories produce bagasse in volume as excess biomass. Global annual sugarcane production reaches some 1.2 billion tons in which Japan accounts for approximately 1.5 million tons. About 25% of it becomes bagasse. The residue has traditionally been used as boiler fuel. By applying the combustion, energy-saving and materials technologies owned by the Daigas Group to the sugarcane sugar production process, it is possible to convert bagasse to a raw material. Osaka Gas, in cooperation with the University of the Ryukyus, is working on developing a technology for making novel functional materials such as carbonized bagasse as well as exploring uses of the products.
Bagasse produced at factories is converted to carbonized bagasse charcoal through a simple carbonization process (pyrolysis) in a carbonizing furnace. carbonized bagasse charcoal has a honeycomb surface structure, as shown in the electron micrograph. This porous structure comprises many pores known as micropores (- 2 nm) and mesopores (- 50 nm). The specific surface area of bagasse charcoal (approx. 400 m2/g) is 50 to 100 times greater than that of charcoal. Expectations are high for the use of carbonized bagasse as a water-holding material and environmental cleanup material.
Osaka Gas intends to establish a stable technology for carbonized bagasse production and will explore its use as environmental material and various functional materials.