Skip to comments.Joule Unlimited On Track To Beat All Known Biofuel Processes
Posted on 03/02/2011 2:44:33 PM PST by Wonder Warthog
Joule Unlimited has invented a genetically-engineered organism that it says simply secretes diesel fuel or ethanol wherever it finds sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based company says it can manipulate the organism to produce the renewable fuels on demand at unprecedented rates, and can do it in facilities large and small at costs comparable to the cheapest fossil fuels.
Joule's process directly yields hydrocarbons that are fungible with existing diesel infrastructure, unlike the biodiesel product that is produced from algal oil.
Based on empirical measurements, Joule can directly produce 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre annually, as compared to 3,000 gallons of biodiesel produced indirectly from algae.
The solar-to-product conversion efficiency of Joule's direct, continuous process for producing diesel, ethanol and chemicals is between 5 and 50X greater than any biomass-dependent process, and gains additional efficiencies by avoiding downstream refining.
Joule's combined advances in genome engineering, solar capture and bioprocessing result in photosynthetic conversion efficiency of more than 7% relative to available yearly solar energy striking the ground, many times greater than prior
Last link is to a peer-reviewed paper describing the technology.
Working links (hopefully):
Ping to any of your lists that might have interest.
I hope this is true because if it is, it means that true energy independence is right around the corner.
Joule was founded in 2007. In the last year, its roughly doubled its employees to 70, closed a $30 million second round of private funding in April and added John Podesta, former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, to its board of directors.
Rest assured, its a scam!
Some sub-species of an extinct micro-organism is probably going to be affected at some unknown date in the future so no new processes or progress.
See that last link. It doesn't look like a scam to me.
Don’t let it out!
It’ll turn my pond into diesel fuel.
15,000 gals per acre per year of diesel. Roughly $45,000 per acre per year gross. I wonder what the operational costs are.
Probably about $160,000 per year, just to file the EPA paper work.
Interesting. Evidently still a private corporation. I don’t find the stock listed as yet.
Podesta may be a crook, but he has lots of connections on the left, which is probably what a “green energy” company needs for the permitting process. And I don’t suppose Podesta would have joined unless he gets big bucks for his services. Presumably a lot of stock options or something.
I’m going to guess they really mean “biodiesel” (carbohydrate oil) rather than hydrocarbon diesel. The former should be easy to get an organism to secrete, the latter would be very hard.
You’re probably right. A buck a page.
Imagine all the Co2 production with this massive amount of photosynthesis. I’m sure the EPA is drawing up regulations right now to shut it down.
Is Co2 good now or is it still bad to produce plant food?
So far all this stuff (solar, wind, etc.) has been BS. Let the market decide!
Funny, my wife says that I do the same thing.
What happens when it escapes into the wild?
Won’t catch on - the ag industry will fight it. They are getting fat off of the subsidies and mandates of the current “burn our food for fuel” policy.
Just like how the “Big 3” decimated the small upstart automakers soon after WWII that posed a “threat” to their dominance... even when some of those companies were WAY ahead of their time.
But I hope and pray that this “Joule Unlimited” is legitimate and can get rolling.
Just wait till these organisms mutate and gain enough stupidity to form a union. Then they’ll only want to produce two gallons of fuel per week.
Nope. This is direct conversion to diesel. No de-esterification or further chemical processing needed.
Apparently, that is precisely what these guys are doing. I don't see anything about "subsidies" being used. Apparently all funding has been venture capital.
I think the income from 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre per year would dwarf any possible subsidies currently given to produce ethanol.
Why "Hm"?? Put a natural gas co-gen electrical plant next door and feed the exhaust gases to the "bugs".
Well, we use 80 million barrels a day and we have a domestic
supply that supplies 32 million barrels a day. That means
that we need an additional 48 mbd. Works out to 1,825 sq.
miles without the support acreage or the amount of water being used.
Yup. I cottoned on to that further down in the article.
Cover the entire southwestern desert with algae ponds....it might make a dent in the supply.
Hope this is not another “cold fusion” flap. Other parties have to reproduce the results before it is believable.
I agree. Next they'll have ManBearPig in their TV advertisements.
“Hope this is not another cold fusion flap.”
Actually, “cold fusion” is looking a bit warmer these days.
See the articles about Rossi.
Process doesn't use algae and is far more efficient than algal approaches. The necessary land is a minute fraction of the "southwestern desert".
If you're talking about crude oil, I think the figures are more like 21 mbd total US consumption and 7.5 mbd domestic production.
Worldwide consumption is around 80 mbd.
I am skeptical but of course I support their efforts and wish them the best fortune. I am skeptical because I sense some unstated tradeoffs or drawbacks. One expert indicated that the process may just be substituting one bottleneck (distilling diesel from foodstock or biomass) for another bottleneck (separation of diesel from water). I cannot evaluate this potential tradeoff but I feel confident that this process is not a free lunch.
My other concern involves biodiesel subsidies and mandates. The 2007 energy bill has enormous mandates for biofuels. I am concerned that this technology will be brought to market to satisfy the mandate regardless of its viability.
Probably some investment required there.
I have always thought there was something to cold fusion. Back in 1988 when it was first announced I went and bought the WSJ because of the coverage in there.
If I had a say in where Federal research money goes I would put 100 million into cold fusion long before the “green energy” schemes that get funding. One example is growing algae in ponds to turn into biomass to make ethanol. Can you imagine the massive energy expenditures just to dry out that goop.
Yeah, I read those comments by the "expert" and wonder what his actual technical background is. As a chemist with decades of experience in the petrochem industry, I have a pretty good idea of the various separation techniques, and the separation doesn't appear to me to be all that difficult. Either simple density/solubility differences should do it, but if not, continuous solvent extraction with a volatile hydrocarbon like pentane should work.
Yup. One of the links has pix of the reactors. I'm sure they will need capital investment, but they don't look terribly complex or expensive.
Yes, but avoiding all that is exactly what the Joule technology is about. Their process goes straight to diesel with minimal biomass growth.
Yes. Joule seems to avoid having to dry out algae. Good luck to them. But if it works any kind of scaling up will cost trillions. Joule said it would need land the size of Texas panhandle to make enough to cover all US energy consumption.
So far Joule does sound credible
A salt water algae is still algae even if it’s called a “highly engineered photosensitive organism in non-freshwater solution”.
and the promise of about 9 1/2 millions gal. per year per square mile.....right.
Joule Elects Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta to Board of DirectorsCambridge, Mass.
January 18, 2011
Joule Unlimited, Inc., pioneer of Liquid Fuel from the Sun, today announced the election of John Podesta to its board of directors. A veteran of two White House administrations, Mr. Podesta will bring considerable expertise to Joule in the realm of public policy as well as partnering with the public sector.
"Since inception, we've sought the guidance of truly world-class directors and advisors to help Joule convert a promising concept into a successful and potentially industry-changing enterprise. We are thrilled to welcome John to the team, given his extensive experience within the US government and internationally as well," said Bill Sims, President and CEO of Joule. "As a leading expert in technology policy and a known advocate for clean energy, John is an ideal champion for Joule, and we look forward to leveraging his insights as we progress towards international deployment."
Mr. Podesta's accomplished career on Capitol Hill spans 30 years. He is currently President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a "think tank" organization that he founded in 2003 to help develop and advocate for progressive policy. He was previously White House Chief of Staff to President Clinton, serving in the president's cabinet and as a principal on the National Security Council. He also served as both an assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff, as well as staff secretary and a senior policy advisor on government information, privacy, telecommunications security, and regulatory policy.
Most recently, Mr. Podesta served as co-chair of President Obama's transition, where he coordinated the priorities of the incoming administration's agenda, oversaw the development of its policies, and spearheaded its appointments of major cabinet secretaries and political appointees. His prior positions on Capitol Hill included counselor to Democratic Leader Senator Tom Daschle; chief counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee; and chief minority counsel for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks; Security and Terrorism; and Regulatory Reform.
"There is no question that clean energy innovation and adoption are among the top economic and security priorities for our nation, and it's critical that we focus on breakthrough technologies, particularly for liquid fuels, that can sometimes fall through the legislative cracks," said Mr. Podesta. "I have seen and heard many proposals by renewable energy companies, and can unequivocally say that Joule has a technology and a system unlike any other, with industrial viability and a clear path to market within the next several years. It's an honor to join the board of a big-thinking category creator like Joule."
"Joule has an ambitious vision for the future of transportation fuels, with the ability to bring energy security to the US and to other regions around the world," said Noubar Afeyan, Founder and Chairman of Joule, and Managing Partner of Flagship Ventures. "With the valuable addition of John to our board, we've gained the strategic insights and support of a long-time government expert who can help Joule build the lasting relationships needed for long-term success."
Didn't some actor come up with a mo'chine to do just that?
If it he did and it works then he will be richer than Bill Gates.
This sounds way too good to be true. About a gallon of diesel from every three square feet every year?
Yeah, but better this than destroying potential food or arable land.
Let’s see...The area of New Mexico is about 2000 square miles so if the optimistic figures work out in the field all that is needed is just one state covered with machines! Easy!
Yes, if it works. Its selling point seems to be that with typical algae, you first have to squeeze out its vegetable oil, then mix it with lye and ethanol, then strain it to get biodiesel. But somehow their algae generates biodiesel directly, without poisoning itself, and in a concentrated enough form that it is easy to separate from the water.