Joule Unveils Solar-to-Biodiesel Process

Joule Biotechnologies Inc. at an industry event in Hawaii said that in its development of renewable fuels, it has achieved direct microbial conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) into hydrocarbons via engineered organisms, powered by solar energy. Joule is advancing a new, photosynthesis-driven approach to producing renewable fuels, avoiding the economic and environmental burden of multi-step, cellulosic or algal biomass-derived methods.

The company employs a SolarConverterT system, together with proprietary, product-specific organisms and state-of-the-art process design, to harness the power of sunlight while consuming waste CO2.

The company said that its technology platform has already been proven out with the conversion of CO2 into ethanol at high productivities, a process that enters pilot development in early 2010. Joule also said that it is now capable of directly producing hydrocarbons – setting the stage for delivery of infrastructure-compatible diesel fuel without the need for raw material feedstocks or complex refining.

“This achievement marks a critical step towards making renewable diesel fuel a reality at high volumes and competitive costs,” said Bill Sims, president and CEO of Joule Biotechnologies. “We are accelerating the pace to create a direct replacement for petroleum-based diesel that can use today’s storage and distribution methods, with a very high net energy balance, and without the depletion of natural resources incurred by biomass-to-liquid approaches. It won’t happen overnight, but this latest milestone opens the door to an industry-changing technology.”

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