Marking another milestone in its advance towards commercialization, Joule Unlimited, Inc. today announced the signing of a lease agreement providing access to 1,200 acres in Lea County, New Mexico, with the potential to scale the project up to 5,000 acres for production of renewable diesel and ethanol directly from sunlight and waste CO2. The agreement with Lea County is the first to be completed as part of Joule’s production facility siting program
Unlike the energy-intensive, multi-step processes required to produce fuel from algae or other biomass sources, Joule’s Helioculture™ platform produces infrastructure-ready diesel and ethanol directly and continuously from sunlight and waste CO2, with no dependence on arable land or fresh water. The diesel process yields long-chain alkanes, the majority component of diesel fuel, as opposed to a low-percentage blendstock like biodiesel. As a result it can immediately “drop in” to the existing diesel infrastructure with no need for refining or chemical processing.
Joule’s production facilities will employ the next generation of the company’s novel SolarConverter® system, which manages the direct, continuous process from photon capture to product synthesis and separation with efficiencies that are up to 50X greater than those of biomass-dependent processes. At full-scale production, Joule expects to deliver diesel and ethanol for as little as $20/bble and $0.60/gallon respectively, including current subsidies.
Peer-reviewed article addresses the advances made by Joule to achieve direct, continuous conversion of solar energy to renewable diesel at 15,000 gallons/acre/year.
• 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.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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