Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL; President & CEO: Takeshi Hashimoto; Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo) and team Eco Trinity (Note 1), led by Novelgen Co., Ltd. (President: Jun Ogura; Headquarters: Nagahama-shi, Shiga Prefecture), today announced the successful production of carbon products—a potential source of energy comparable to wood pellets—from microplastics and microalgae (Note 2), collected by a microplastic collection device installed on MOL-operated vessel (Note 3).

The success of this demonstration shows the potential use of microplastics as an energy resource, and could encourage the collection of microplastics from the ocean to increase production of carbon materials and in turn expand the energy supply.

For the next generation living on Earth, the MOL Group will work collaboratively and creatively with its partners and stakeholders to effectively address environmental issues. The group will continue to provide solutions to critical problems such as preservation of the marine environment, protection of biodiversity, and prevention of air pollution, making a concerted effort to ensure the sustainable development of society and conserving the natural environment. In the company’s words, “From the blue oceans, we sustain people’s lives and ensure a prosperous future.”

Eco Trinity works toward practical application of systems that generate secure, safe energy, water, and food resources with decentralized autonomous waste treatment devices and microplastic removal technology at the core.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Collected-microplastics.png
Collected microplastics
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Carbon-products-recovered-from-collected-microplastics-become-a-raw-material-for-fuel-pellets.jpg
Carbon products recovered from collected microplastics become a raw material for fuel pellets

Note 1) An interdisciplinary team participating in Japan Foundation-promoted Project “Ikkaku,” which aims to address the issue of marine waste.

Project Ikkaku: https://ikkaku.lne.st/en/

EcoTrinity: https://ecotrinity.jp/

Note 2) Demonstration test method and results

Microplastics and microalgae are mixed and heated to 300oC for a certain period of time to decompose the organic matter and produce carbon products. When the carbon product gained through this demonstration test was subjected to calorific value analysis, the results showed a calorific value of 17.1MJ/kg (1 megajoule (MJ) is about 239 kilo calories), the same level as wood pellets.

Note 3) Please refer to November 24, 2020 press release: MOL & Miura to Conduct Demonstration Test with Microplastic Collection Device Installed on Newbuilding Wood Chip Carrier – Effort Aims to Protect the Marine Environment Using Merchant Vessels –
and March 24, 2021 press release: Microplastic Collection Device to be Installed on Marusumi Paper’s Newbuilding Wood Chip Carrier – Accelerating Ocean/Global Environmental Conservation Using Merchant Vessels –