Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Japanese Scientists Are Producing Alcohol from Wood

      I find this to be interesting in the light that we have been trained that “wood alcohol”, i.e. Methanol is poisonous to humans.  If they have found a way to extract ethanol from wood, then there is a lot of wood scraps that could be turned into drinkable spirits.  This is great if it works, it will give us another spirit, like rum that has its base in waste products.

     Researchers at Japan’s Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute have developed an alcoholic beverage made from tree bark, which it says resembles the qualities of an alcohol aged in wooden barrels.   The team claim to have produced an alcohol beverage from tree bark that carries different qualities, depending on the type of tree used.

     The 15% abv alcohol is made by pulverizing wood into a creamy paste and then adding yeast and an enzyme to start the fermentation process, according to Tokyo’s Straits Times.  By avoiding using heat, researchers say they are able to preserve the specific flavor of each tree’s wood, and have already produced variants from trees including cedar, birch and cherry.   Having experimented with both brewed and distilled versions of the alcohol, the team said that the alcohol presents better as a distilled beverage, with 4kg of cedar wood producing around 3.8 liters of liquid.
     The institute was set up in 1905 with the mandate of carrying out research relating to Japan’s forests and forest products industries to ensure the sustainability and protection of natural resources.  Researcher Kengo Magara acknowledged that “wood alcohol” might not be the most beneficial use of its resources, but referred to the venture as a “dream-inspired” project.   The government institute aims to commercialize the product with a private-sector partner and have the liquor on shelves within three years.