Hokkaido University Research Profiles


Research on Biomass Utilization as a Socio-Technical Systems


  • Toru Furuichi

Aiming to spread bioenergy through local circulation

At the Laboratory of Sustainable Material Cycle Systems research is conducted on the development of technologies and social systems (socio-technical systems) to create locally distributed bioenergy from biomass such as food waste, sewage sludge, livestock manure, forest residues and rice straw.

Content of research

We are proposing a system (e.g., planning, modeling and evaluation based on experiments and field studies) that can contribute to both the environment and regional development (economy) by linking energy recovered from biomass (e.g., food waste, sewage sludge, livestock manure, forest residues, and rice straw) through combustion and methane fermentation with local energy consumers (e.g., public facilities, nursing and welfare facilities, agricultural facilities such as greenhouses and food factories). Furthermore, by obtaining cooperation from private companies, we are conducting research on creation of community through biomass utilization in collaboration with the endowed laboratory of biomass community planning (Visiting Professor Toru Furuichi, Specially Appointed Assistant Professor Satoru Ochiai, https://smcs.eng.hokudai.ac.jp/bio-com-p.html).

  • Explanation of the figure on the left
    Factors to be considered for the development of a biomass utilization system
    To establish a sound biomass utilization system, it is necessary to clarify the purpose of the project and then consider all of the following factors: (1) input, including the collection and transportation of biomass, (2) output, such as energy use and treatment of residues; (3) selection of conversion technologies according to the nature of the input, (4) business profitability (business entity) and (5) regional characteristics.

Potential for social implementation

  • ・Commercialization of bioenergy and promotion of regional development
  • ・Improvement of the use of local renewable energy
  • ・Appropriate disposal of waste and promotion of recycling
  • ・Reduction of the use of fossil fuels in public facilities
  • ・Establishment of locally distributed energy sources
  • ・Establishment of a hydrogen society

Appealing points to industry and local governments

・Development of a biogas system with negative GHG emissions
・Expansion of the use of rice straw and wood pellets
・Integrated biogasification (operation method, liquid fertilizer properties) of local wet waste (e.g., food waste, manure, septic tank sludge, sewage sludge, manure)
・Construction of a waste-to-energy system that does not require incineration without power generation