Biotech Firm Says It Can Grow Diesel

Joule Unlimited's organism absorbs sunlight, carbon dioxide, secretes fuel
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2011 7:18 AM CST
Biotech Firm Says It Can Grow Diesel
This photo provided by Joule Unlimited shows the company’s ethanol and diesel production testing facility where arrays of bacteria gather sunlight and carbon dioxide and convert them to fuel.   (AP Photo/Joule Unlimited, Felicia Spagnoli)

A Massachusetts biotech company says it has created an organism capable of radically transforming the energy business—and the world. Joule Unlimited claims its genetically-engineered organism can create diesel fuel or ethanol using only the same ingredients grass needs to grow: sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. Skeptics, however, doubt whether the firm will be able to deliver the fuels in large quantities, the AP notes.

The company says its organism takes in sunlight and carbon dioxide then secretes fuel without requiring the biomass "middleman"—such as the tons of corn or algae currently used to make biofuels. It claims its cyanobacterium can produce 15,000 gallons of diesel full per acre annually. That's more than four times more than the most efficient algal process for making fuel ... and they say they can do it at $30 a barrel. "If we're half right, this revolutionizes the world's largest industry, which is the oil and gas industry, the company's CEO says. "And if we're right, there's no reason why this technology can't change the world." He says he knows "there's always skeptics for breakthrough technologies. And they can ride home on their horse and use their abacus to calculate their checkbook balance." Click to read the full piece. (Read more biofuel stories.)

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