Biofuel developments and cooperation among China, Japan, and Malaysia
The governments of China and Japan are promoting biofuel programs to deal with energy security and environmental problems and to enhance agricultural and rural development. These countries are producing biofuels from nonfood resources, such as agricultural residuals such as rice and wheat straw and crop cobs. However, the high enzyme cost and collection expense are major obstacles to production expansion. Rice and wheat straw are categorized as second-generation biofuels. It is believed that this category of biofuels does not have a negative impact on agricultural and food markets. However, rice and wheat straw can compete with feed use in Japan. The Chinese government has tried to produce biofuels using nonfood feedstock such as cassava, sweet potato, and other crops. The government categorizes cassava and sweet potato as nonfood feedstock, which can have negative impact on food security in some developing countries because cassava and sweet potato are staple foods in these countries. Japanese research institutes, universities, and private companies have accumulated research and development (R&D) technologies to reduce production cost. The technical transfers from Japan to China and other Asian countries are crucial factors in promoting biofuel production from nonfood resources in China and Asia.