Skip to comments.Biotech Company to Patent Fuel-Secreting Bacterium
Posted on 09/15/2010 1:09:11 PM PDT by neverdem
A biotech company plans to announce Tuesday that it has won a patent on a genetically altered bacterium that converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into ingredients of diesel fuel, a step that could provide a new pathway for making ethanol or a diesel replacement that skips several cumbersome and expensive steps in existing methods.
The bacteriums product, which it secretes like sweat, is a class of hydrocarbon molecules called alkanes that are chemically indistinguishable from the ones made in oil refineries. The organism can grow in bodies of water unfit for drinking or on land that is useless for farming, according to the company, Joule Unlimited of Cambridge, Mass.
We make very clean, sulfur-free hydrocarbons that drop directly into the existing infrastructure for the production of diesel fuel, said William J. Sims, the chief executive of Joule. The object, he said, was not to be an alternative for fossil fuels, but to become a viable replacement.
Joule said it was the first company to patent an organism that secretes hydrocarbon fuel made continuously, directly from sunlight. Other companies, including Amyris Biotechnologies of Emeryville, Calif., and LS9 of San Carlos, Calif., are working on organisms that will make fuel if fed...
Alternative energy experts agree that photosynthesis is a promising avenue for biofuel research. The challenge is turning the resulting product into a fuel. Many companies are trying to develop an algae to do that job. But it requires energy to separate the algae from the water and then process the oil they make internally into a usable fuel. An organism that secretes the desired product directly avoids both problems.
In a test in Leander, Tex., Joules bacteria strain produced ethanol. Different variants can also make polymers and other high-value chemicals that are ordinarily derived from petroleum, according to Joule...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
In HTML, it's very long.
Seriously, I hope this produces oil cheaply enough to replace drilled oil, espcially Arab oil. Since it takes the carbon dioxide from the air to get the carbon for the fuel this would count as carbon neutral. The greenies should love it unless then are merely interested in controlling us rather than "saving" the earth.
“The greenies should love it unless then are merely interested in controlling us rather than “saving” the earth.”
If this new product is made by “greedy” “profit-making” private corporations, greenies are likely to oppose it in principle. The only way it would be palatable is if the federal government nationalized the industry on grounds that nobody should profit from a “necessity” like energy.
“a patent on a genetically altered bacterium ...”
No No GMO!
No No GMO!
NO!! We’re running OUT of resources. We HAVE to run out of resources. If we don’t it will ruin EVERYTHING.
The greenies should love it unless then are merely interested in controlling us rather than saving the earth.
Naaa...it’s nothing other than about taxes and control.
Is this company publicly traded?
Next comes a bacterium you can feed cellulose to (the most abundant bio-macro-molecule) and get pure burnable fuel.
This would be more than a shot across the bow to OPEC, it would be their death knell!
“Ask not for whom the biotechnology bell tolls, it tolls for thee Middle East!”
I hope it pans out, otherwise we’ll be forced to put up with a movie titled “Who killed the Bacteria car?” in a few years.
“Since it takes the carbon dioxide from the air to get the carbon for the fuel this would count as carbon neutral.”
If the greens cared about that they’d admit that fossil fuels are already “carbon neutral”. After all, if the biotic oil origin theory is correct, then all the carbon stored in fossil fuels came out of the atmosphere to begin with, and we are just putting it back when we burn it.
WOW...really sounds good.
Founded in 2007 by Flagship Venture Labs, Joule is privately held and headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What if some of these bacteria ‘escaped’ and started growing in a nasty pond in my yard, would I be able to harvest the alkanes for my own use?
Finally - we’re moving in the right direction...
The greenies are currently opposing a solar plant to be built on scrub land in California if that tells you anything.
It will happen. I am confident for it.
What if the bacteria escaped and started turning everything to oil, everywhere.
Don’t see why not.
You would have a flammable smelly oil slick in your back yard. I hope they have an off switch.
the government already makes a profit of oil by taxation and leasing and import duties it will not give up this golden goose.
“nobody should profit from a necessity like energy”
I certainly hope you meant the government should not profit from energy. If there were no profit in energy production, who would provide it?
I secrete fuel, just no one wants it. Go figure. ;’)
Joule Unlimited promises it can genetically engineer an organism that eats CO2 and produces a drop-in diesel fuel. On Tuesday the company announced that it has landed a patent on its recombinant biosynthesis technology, putting it on track to commercialize a feedstock-free process it says can churn out diesel-range hydrocarbons for $30 a barrel.
U.S. Patent #7,794,969, AKA Methods and Compositions for the Recombinant Biosynthesis of n-Alkanes, covers the Cambridge, Mass.-based startups process to engineer photosynthetic microorganisms for the direct synthesis of diesel molecules. While other biofuel startups are using genetically engineered organisms to convert sugar into drop-in fuels (see Amyris and Solazyme for examples), Joule says its organisms need only sunlight, water and carbon dioxide a fact thats key to its low-cost claims.
Joules helioculture systems glass containers of algae and water laid out in a manner similar to solar panels, with pipes to take the resulting biofuel to storage tanks are meant to be modular and scalable, CEO Bill Sims told us last year. Unlike many other algae biofuel efforts that rely on harvesting and processing the algae to make fuel or other products, Joules microorganisms keep pumping out fuel in a continuous process. Craig Venters startup Synthetic Genomics is working on engineering algae to do someting similar, and has a $300 million research project underway with oil giant ExxonMobil.
Joules pilot project in Leander, Texas is now producing ethanol, rather than diesel, and can produce up to 10,000 gallons per acre per year, though Joule said its shooting for 15,000 gallons per acre. As for its diesel product, Joule plans to start pilot production by years end and open a commercial plant in 2012.
Joule raised a $30 million series B round in April, adding to the substantially less than $50 million CEO Bill Sims said the company had raised as of July 2009, when it came out of stealth. The company was founded in 2007 at the Flagship Venture Labs, an arm of Cambridge-based Flagship Ventures.
Saltwater algae floats, oil bacteria probably would also. The solution to the land problem is use the open ocean. An added benefit is there are much fewer clouds offshore boosting production. The entire petroleum industry could be replaced by using less than 2% of the ocean surface. The land, water, and sunshine are vast and free.
“the government already makes a profit of oil by taxation and leasing and import duties it will not give up this golden goose.”
I didn’t saying progressives were logically consistent. I’m just saying that their irrational opposition to private sector profits likely would make them skeptical of even “green” ways to create energy. Hence, the only way they could rationalize it to themselves is if it were government-controlled.
Hypocisy is an enduring feature of progressivism: private monopolies=bad; public monopolies=good. Private profits=bad; public taxes=good. When evil private tobacco companies sell cigarettes, they are “exploiting” helpless smokers, but when government taxes those very same smokers, it is “helping” them by increasing their incentive to stop smoking.
It’s ironic that whenever gasoline prices go haywire, politicians are the first to point fingers at greedy oil companies, but I have NEVER seen in such circumstances politicians offering to lower gasoline taxes to alleviate the burden on consumers. Tobacco taxes, oil taxes: there’s a very long list of “golden gooses” on which politicians are all too happy to feed.
One exception: our military, which is the largest single user of fuel in the world. Most leaps in technology are funded by military spending on new, more effeicient methods of killing annoying people. That's because initially only the military can afford the price tag, and then the price drops. When integrated circuits were first invented they cost $1,000 each. Only military orders for use in missiles allowed the factories to be built. Today entire systems on a chip can be bought for pennies. That said, the replacement for petroleum won't happen on Obama's watch. He's defunding the military to buy Chinese windmills, solar boondoggles, and putting more people on food stamps.
Thanks for the comment, pic & links!
You made some good points.
Maybe the bacteria already existed, and they just discovered it :)