Komatsu Successfully Converts Biomass Combustion Ash into Fertilizer at Its Awazu Plant: Contributing to Industrial Waste Reduction by Recycling Forest Resources in the Kaga Region of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan

Komatsu Successfully Converts Biomass Combustion Ash into Fertilizer at Its Awazu Plant: Contributing to Industrial Waste Reduction by Recycling Forest Resources in the Kaga Region of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan

September 14, 2022

Komatsu Ltd. (Chairman and CEO: Hiroyuki Ogawa) (hereinafter “Komatsu”), together with Ishikawa Agriculture and Forestry Research Center and ASAHI AGRIA CO., LTD. (Chairman: Masanori Murakami) (hereafter “ASAHI AGRIA”), a fertilizer manufacturer, has successfully converted wood ash from biomass boilers operating at Komatsu’s Awazu Plant in an effort to promote efficient use of forest resources in the Kaga area of ​​Ishikawa Prefecture, and to reduce industrial waste. As a flagship model of public-private partnership, the three partners will contribute to the reduction of industrial waste and the achievement of carbon neutrality by developing the circulation cycle which extends to agriculture and forestry and to boosting agriculture and forestry in Ishikawa Prefecture by using biomass burning ash as fertilizer.

【Left: Biomass burning ash. Right: Delivery of Biomass Burning Ash from Awazu Plant】

In 2014, Komatsu entered into a comprehensive forestry agreement with the Ishikawa Prefectural Government and the Federation of Ishikawa Prefectural Forestry Associations to jointly promote the revitalization of local forestry. At its Awazu plant, since 2015, Komatsu has been operating biomass boilers using wood chips as fuel, mostly made from unused wood scraps after forest thinning in the Kaga region, which has facilitated cost savings. energy, creating energy and reducing environmental impact. By using approximately 6,000 tons of wood chips per year, Komatsu helps promote healthy forest management and limit driftwood damage after heavy rains. Meanwhile, Komatsu has disposed of about 20 tons of wood ash generated in biomass boilers as industrial waste, which has been a concern for the Awazu plant.

After focusing its attention on potassium and phosphorus, nutrients necessary for agricultural products contained in ordinary wood ash, at the Awazu plant, since June 2016, Komatsu has worked with two new partners: the Agricultural Research Center and Forestry of Ishikawa and ASAHI AGRIA. The work focused on analyzing the content of the wood ash generated in the Plant’s biomass boilers and on verifying the fertilizing effects with a view to converting the wood ash into fertilizer. These efforts found a sufficient amount of active fertilizer ingredients, including potassium. Cultivation tests also showed no difference compared to conventional fertilizers. In August 2017, Komatsu applied for “Applications for Fertilizer Registration” as Biomass Combustion Ash Fertilizer with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Japan relied on imports of potassium and phosphorus as crude fertilizers. Recently, however, harmless wood ash, generated mainly in biomass boilers, has gained attention as an accessible alternative raw material in Japan. Against this background, the Japanese government implemented the revised Fertilizer Quality Control Law in the previous fiscal year, which encouraged the reassessment of fertilizer classification. Wood ash that has been verified to be safe is now classified as a “fertilizer by-product”. Biomass combustion ash from the Awazu plant was registered as a fertilizer by-product in April 2022.

In April 2022, Komatsu began delivering biomass combustion ash from the Awazu plant as raw fertilizer to ASAHI AGRIA’s Kansai plant. Komatsu plans to deliver almost all of the ash from the Awazu plant there. Currently, the partner’s plant is preparing to start the production of fertilizers based on biomass combustion ash. ASAHI AGRIA is working to launch fertilizer sales through JA Group, the Japan Agricultural Cooperative Group, and other sales channels, starting in fiscal 2023. ASAHI AGRIA hopes to contribute to a stable supply of fertilizer for farmers in Ishikawa Prefecture as well as other prefectures.

KAGA FOREST ASSOCIATION, which produces wood chips, is also concerned about the disposal of about 2,700 tons of tree roots and bark per year, which are generated during the felling and collection process, and are not suitable as fuel for biomass boilers at Awazu. Plant. In an effort to reduce industrial waste from recycling forest resources in the Kaga region, the ASSOCIATION has worked to make tree roots and bark usable as fuel in large-scale biomass burning plants by mixing and mashing them together. Today, the Association engages in mixed crushing using a large mobile crusher and supplies crushed chips as fuel to large-scale biomass combustion facilities in Gifu Prefecture and other regions. As a result, it has become possible to fully utilize wood produced from the trunks or bark of forest and mountain trees, including use as lumber, plywood, biomass woodchips, and similar.
When all these series of efforts go mainstream, they will fulfill the promise of not only carbon-neutral energy use of local wood in Ishikawa Prefecture, but also further revitalization of local agriculture and forestry. , reducing the volume of industrial waste in production and recycling the industrial waste generated.

【Left: Prototype of fertilizer made from biomass burning ash. Right: Mixed crushing at KAGA FOREST ASSOCIATION】

In the current medium-term management plan, Komatsu is committed to minimizing the environmental impact of its activities, aiming for a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from the use of its products and the production of its equipment by 2030 (compared to 2010 levels) and a challenge goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Through DANTOTSU value (customer value creation that generates a positive cycle of improving results and ESG resolutions), Komatsu will strive to create new values ​​in order to steadily advance towards the next stage for the workplaces of the future and pass on a sustainable future to the next generation.

No: 0045(3165)
Corporate Communications Department
Sustainability Promotion Division
Komatsu Ltd.
Phone. : +81-(0)3-5561-2616
email: [email protected]

*Information may be subject to change without notice.

Kevin A. Perras