The ethanol would then be supplied as a fuel to the locals for evaluation under the pilot program, reports Scientific American. If the project catches, it could eventually pave the way for similar endeavors across Japan that will see more cars running on the rice-based biofuel in the future, said Yasuo Igarashi, a professor of applied microbiology at the University of Tokyo.
After the US, Japan is the second largest consumer of gasoline in the world and produces awfully high levels of carbon emissions as well. Unlike the US, Japan has set itself strict CO2 reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol and is now turning to alternative fuels in an effort to meet the targets. However, Japanese motorists are still far behind their American and European counterparts in the adoption of green fuels. This is mostly because of the exorbitantly high price for locally farmed goods as well as a lack of support from national oil companies and the government.
The new fuel will also be tested on a flex-fuel vehicle that can run on any mix of gasoline and the rice-based biofuel, but Japan’s carmakers still don’t offer any flex-fuel models so that team had to import one from Ford in the UK. Currently, 1kg of rice is needed to produce 0.5L of ethanol, which costs a lot more than ordinary gasoline priced at roughly $1.13 per liter including taxes. We wouldn't be surprised if its developers came up with the idea while sharing a drink.