27 Jul 2009:
Biofuel Startup Announces
Huge Yields from Engineered Organism
A Massachusetts company, Joule Biotechnologies, has unveiled what it says is a technological breakthrough that uses genetically engineered organisms, sunlight, water, and concentrated carbon dioxide to produce up to 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre.
The much-watched startup claims that its
secret organisms, coupled with photo bioreactors, not only directly produce an ethanol-like fuel but also secrete the fuel continuously. As a result, Joule officials say, its so-called “helioculture process” can produce up to 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre — four to 10 times greater than algae-based biofuel experiments — and can do so at $50 per gallon, which is far cheaper than other algal biofuel processes. Independent observers said that while Joule’s technology looks promising, it still faces many hurdles as it attempts to take its breakthrough from the lab and mass-produce fuel. Joule says it will open a pilot plant in the Southwest early next year and commercially produce biofuels by the end of 2010. Joule’s project is one of several well-financed efforts to genetically engineer organisms
to produce biofuels.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.