Actually never mind that, tasting any wattage isn’t really recommended, despite my own preference for licking 9V batteries. Nevertheless, a power source fueled largely by Japan’s girthy noodles called udon is now currently in operation in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture.

Although generating power from bio-organic sources is nothing new, it seems this plant-based plant has found a way to be sustainable using a peculiar quirk of Kagawa’s udon rich culture.


For those not familiar with biogas, it’s the process of fermenting organic waste such as discarded food or manure so that it releases various gases including methane which can be used to generate electricity. According to Back to the Future II, it will be perfected by next year and will be enough to power our flying cars. Also, as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome has shown us, this technique will last us until long after the nuclear apocalypse has occurred.

Here’s a handy diagram on how it works with the help of Yellow Dragonman (actually a woman) who is part of UDON (Ultra Defensers of Nature).

Widespread use of biogas around the world has been relatively slow to develop, but it continues to be steadily on the rise. As mechanical engineering firm Chiyoda Seisakusho in Kagawa has learned, it just needs the right conditions to flourish.

Udon Prefecture

Kagawa Prefecture is the nation’s leader in udon production and quality, earning it the nickname “Udon Prefecture.” Udon is a type of thick floury noodle loved by Japanese diners everywhere. There’s also the delectable Sanuki udon of Kagawa with its thicker and more rigid feel. Inside the prefecture, competition to serve the best Sanuki udon is strong, and restaurants have to offer up the freshest and fastest bowls to please discerning customers.

As a result, despite their best efforts at conservation this struggle to keep their noodles the best creates a fair degree of waste. A popular restaurant in Takamatsu City, Sanuki Mengyo reported an annual loss of 5% of their noodle stock (150 tons). It seems that wasting noodles has long been a financial burden of the udon restaurant business, one which Sanuki Mengyo calculates to 4.5 million yen (US$44,000) annually.

Using 100% of your udon

It could be said that udon is the life-blood of Kagawa with many people making their livings off of the foodstuff. Farmers, factory workers, restaurant staff, and more all rely on the noodle to earn their keep. Chiyoda Seisakusho, the creator of the udon generator and resident of Takamatsu, knew this and found a yet another way to make the noodle breathe life into this town.

News website Sankei Biz did some rough calculations based on the Sanuki Mengyo’s noodle turnover rates. The amount of flour used to make udon in Kagawa is approximately 60,000 tons per year. If we apply the same 5% loss to all their udon businesses then that would equate to 3,000 tons. 

Currently the Udon Generator is accepting 3 tons of uneaten noodles a day which creates about 600 kWh of juice. If this plant were to accept all of the areas 3,000 tons of wasted udon then it could generate 600,000 kWh, which would be enough to power about 180 homes for an entire year. If this were to become a reality 100% of Kagawa’s udon would be used to power its society by food energy, commerce, and electricity.

It’s been said that alternative sources of energy are inefficient in that their output doesn’t match the work required to collect material, operate, and maintain the generators. However, perhaps the Udon Generator can teach us that if we make the technology fit the culture rather than the other way around, a sustainable solution can be found.

Source: Udon Marugoto Junkan Project, Sankei Biz (Japanese)
Images: Udon Marugoto Junkan Projet (Facebook)