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Joule patents high-volume ethanol production from sunlight and CO2

Joule has patented its method for increasing the ethanol production capability of a photosynthetic microorganism.

By Renewable Energy Focus Staff

According to Joule Unlimited Technologies, its platform microorganism is engineered to produce and secrete ethanol in a continuous process, converting more than 90% of the CO2 it consumes directly to end product with no reliance on biomass feedstocks. This is different to competing technologies that use microorganisms to produce ethanol by fermenting sugars from cellulose or other biomass materials.

Joule is now producing ethanol on a pilot scale, and claims to have achieved nearly 50% of its ultimate productivity target in the lab.

The two US patents cover enzymatic mechanisms engineered into the cell by Joule to maximise its ethanol productivity. According to Joule, this together with its advances in bio-processing and solar capture and conversion, will help the company achieve an ultimate target of 25,000 gallons per acre annually

At full-scale commercial production Joule expects to produce ethanol for as little as $0.60/gallon.

Bill Sims, President and CEO of Joule, says: "The market for ethanol is strong and growing internationally, and our patented technology affords Joule an incredible opportunity to meet growing demand at productivities well beyond biomass-based approaches. Rather than focus on incremental improvements along the supply chain, we have proven that a direct, continuous process from photons to fuel is the answer to highly-efficient, cost-competitive production that can scale without today’s feedstock constraints."

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