Ramen broth is undeniably delicious, responsible for the most pronounced flavors you experience while enjoying a ramen meal. On the other hand, though, the flavor can get overpowering once you’re out of noodles and toppings, and drinking every last drop of broth that you’re served isn’t the healthiest choice.
The result is diners often have some broth left in their bowl when they finish eating, and while that’s a decision your palate and body are likely to thank you for, it can also seem a little wasteful. Thankfully, though, there’s a company in Japan that’s turning leftover ramen broth into fuel, as shown in the video below.
Now that ramen-sourced fuel is being used to power the cars on one of the most scenic train lines in Japan, Kyushu’s Takachiho Amaterasu Railway.
▼ The Takachiho Amaterasu Railway, in Miyazaki Prefecture, has two-car open-air trains that run along a section of the former Takachiho Railway route, providing beautiful views to sightseers.
Masumi Nishida is the chairman of Nishida Logistics, a shipping company headquartered in Fukuoka Prefecture. About 10 years ago Nishida was talking with one of his clients, the owner of a restaurant that specializes in tonkotsu (pork stock) ramen, Fukuoka’s favorite variety. When the owner told Nishida about the expense of paying for a waste disposal company to take care of the leftover ramen broth customers didn’t drink, Nishida started to wonder if it could be used to make biodiesel instead.
So Nishida Logistics installed equipment at the restaurant into which the leftover ramen broth could be dumped in order to separate out the lard content, which can then be used to make biodiesel fuel. The ramen-derived fuel is mixed with biodiesel made from used tempura cooking oil, another ecologically minded initiative Nishida Logistics has introduced, and the blended Japanese food-based biodiesel now powers roughly half of the company’s fleet of 170 trucks.
Nishida Logistics has since begun making its ramen/tempura biodiesel commercially available to other companies, and in August the Takachiho Amaterasu Railway became one of their customers.
The Takachiho Amaterasu Railway train carries groups of up to 60 riders on a 30-minute round-trip journey.
So far, the changeover from the ordinary diesel the railway was previously using has been smooth, with no mechanical problems reported as a result of the switch. The new biodiesel produces less smoke, letting passengers better enjoy the natural mountain scenery, and what exhaust that does result is even said to smell like fried rice or ramen being cooked.
Sources: Kyodo via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko, Colabora, NHK
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