Biofuel Made from Sunlight, Waste CO2 and Non-potable Water

Us­ing the same prin­ciples as pho­to­syn­thesis, Joule pro­duces re­new­able trans­port­a­tion biofuel from sun­light, waste CO2, and non-pot­able wa­ter

Joule has de­veloped a tech­no­logy trans­form­ing waste CO2 into bio­fuel. The pro­cess starts when a li­quid me­dium con­sist­ing of en­gin­eered bac­teria and non-pot­able wa­ter is in­tro­duced to a mod­u­lar cir­cu­la­tion unit of trans­par­ent pipes. When the bac­teria have reached the right dens­ity re­quired for fuel pro­duc­tion, waste CO2 is pumped from an industrial emitter or pipeline to the cir­cu­la­tion unit, keep­ing the bac­teria in mo­tion, and max­im­iz­ing their ex­pos­ure to sun­light in or­der to drive the pho­to­syn­thesis-like pro­cess to pro­duce the fi­nal fuel.

The pro­cess re­quires no corn, sugar, or fresh wa­ter. The U.S. En­vir­on­mental Pro­tec­tion Agency has re­gistered Joule’s Sun­flow-E eth­anol for com­mer­cial use in gas­ol­ine blends, provid­ing car­bon-neut­ral fuel that does not re­quire changes to in­fra­struc­ture. Joule has raised more than $200 million in funding to date, suc­cess­fully pi­lot-tested the plat­form and tech­no­logy over more than two years, and is work­ing hard to pre­pare the in­nov­at­ive fuel for fi­nal com­mer­cial use.

Relevance of solution

2015 re­gistered as the warmest year on re­cord, and to pre­vent fur­ther tem­per­at­ure in­creases, global CO2 emis­sions must be drastic­ally re­duced. 1 By con­vert­ing waste CO2 into a raw ma­ter­ial in fuel pro­duc­tion, Joule’s tech­no­logy can res­ult in massively re­duced CO2 emis­sions and achieve high scalab­il­ity without the use of ag­ri­cul­tural land, fresh wa­ter, or crops.

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