Sunday, February 27, 2011

Solar Energy To Renewable Diesel At 15,000 Gallons/Acre/Year

Joule Unlimited, Inc., pioneer of Liquid Fuel from the Sun™, has supported the high-productivity potential of its production process with the publication of a detailed analysis and model of its breakthrough solar-to-fuels platform.

Published by Photosynthesis Research, the peer-reviewed article examines Joule's critical advances in solar capture and conversion, direct product synthesis and continuous product secretion, which collectively form a platform for renewable fuel and chemical production with yields up to 50X greater than the maximum potential of any process requiring biomass. In addition, the analysis counters prior assumptions about the viability of industrial photosynthesis, addressing the barriers overcome by Joule to achieve unprecedented photosynthetic efficiency.

"Joule was formed not to improve upon existing biofuel processes, but to create a new and transformational process altogether," said Bill Sims, President and CEO of Joule. "We have channeled photosynthesis, the most productive energy-capture process on earth, at efficiencies previously thought unattainable. At the same time we've eliminated dependence on biomass, the Achilles heel of biofuel production, and the prohibitive costs, processing and logistics it entails. The result is a new paradigm for renewable fuel production with unrivalled productivity targets that are fully supported by actual, measurable gains we've achieved at every layer – from photon capture through product synthesis, secretion, separation and collection."

The article, entitled "A New Dawn for Industrial Photosynthesis," quantitatively affirms the advantages of Joule's direct conversion process as compared to the indirect production of fuel from biomass, including algae. Though both processes aim to convert solar energy into fuel, the latter method requires the costly culturing, harvesting and processing of algal biomass – a multi-step intermediate stage that Joule's process avoids. Moreover, Joule's process directly yields hydrocarbons that are fungible with existing diesel infrastructure, unlike the biodiesel product that is produced from algal oil.

Highlights include:

• 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 industry assumptions.

"In contrast to research of the past, we have shown that photosynthesis is the superior platform technology for direct, renewable fuel production at the volumes and costs required to supplant fossil fuels," said Dan Robertson, PhD, co-author of the article and Senior Vice President of Biological Sciences at Joule. "The engineering of a photosynthetic microorganism to directly synthesize an infrastructure-compatible product, and continuously secrete that product, represents a landmark in industrial bioprocessing. The process technology is equally unique in that a highly-efficient, low-cost SolarConverter® system enables unprecedented productivities, as fully explained in our analysis and now being demonstrated at pilot scale."

"Joule has already delivered on its vision as the first commercial effort to combine the required biological advances with radical improvement in cost and robustness of a system for industrial production," said George Church, PhD, renowned geneticist and Chairman of Joule's technical advisory board, who also contributed to the article. "This is the holistic systems approach that will finally capitalize on solar energy for liquid fuel production at meaningful, economical scale."

Contacts and sources:
Joule Unlimited, Inc.

"A New Dawn for Industrial Photosynthesis" is now accessible online at

Joule is pioneering the production of Liquid Fuel from the Sun™, surpassing today's barriers to abundant, sustainable, cost-competitive supply. Its transformational Helioculture™ platform converts sunlight and waste CO2 directly into liquid fuels in a continuous process that is not limited by costly biomass intermediates, processing or use of precious natural resources. This platform can yield renewable diesel fuel in unprecedented volumes with a fraction of the land use incurred by current methods, leapfrogging biomass-dependent approaches and eliminating the economic and environmental disadvantages of fossil fuels. Founded in 2007 by Flagship VentureLabs, Joule is privately held and headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Additional information is available at


  1. very interesting, i hope the government will do what it takes to use some alternative ways in using cheaper energy Solar Power Queensland

  2. The use of solar energy indirectly reduces health costs.

    solar perth
    solar adelaide