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Solar fuel producer Joule listed among world’s top 10 emerging technologies

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Technology review TR10 is an annual publication by MIT and officially recognised the importance of Joules’ solar platform for renewable fuel production.

“What would an ideal renewable fuel look like? The solution being developed by Joule appears to answer that question, and has the potential to compete with petroleum on a large scale, supplying us with a clean and homegrown source of fuel that can also be deployed worldwide,” said David Rotman, editor, Technology Review.

Joule’s pioneering technology is the first to convert sunlight and waste CO2 into liquid fuels. The whole process is carried out in a single continuous step and completely eliminates the biomass element that has hindered biofuel development. When scaled up to full production capacity, the technology should enable Joule to produce billions of gallons of renewable diesel efficiently and more importantly, without doing too much environmental damage. The process actually consumes waste CO2 and should conserve natural resources.

“Joule was founded with a vision for the ideal renewable fuel platform, targeting unlimited scale of production with low-risk deployment and minimal environmental footprint,” said Noubar Afeyan, founder and chairman, Joule and managing partner and CEO, Flagship Ventures. “Three years later, it’s exciting to see this vision result in an integrated system and process design for renewable diesel that can begin commercial rollout as soon as 2012. Joule is at the forefront of an entirely new category of direct solar fuels that have tremendous potential to transform the oil and energy landscape.”

Joule’s HeliocultureTM uses proprietary photosynthetic organisms, which use sunlight to convert waste CO2 into liquid fuels. The organisms act as synthesized catalysts directly converting the feedstock CO2 into fuel, without the need for large scale biomass production. Their use of waste CO2 as a feedstock could also potentially reduce carbon emissions by as much as 90% in some instances.

Joule hopes to begin trials producing ethanol for aerofuels this year, and will be starting trials of biodiesel in early 2011. They are targeting production of 25,000 gallons of ethanol and 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre each year, when at full scale production capacity. According to Joule their process is ten times more productive than the land-use from biomass derived fuels. They are also hoping to sell their fuel products at a competitive price of US$ 40 for biodiesel and US$ 50 per barrel of ethanol.

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