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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cool Fuel

A bioengineering company called Joule Biotechnologies, Inc. ( has recently unveiled a bold new possible means to create fuel from the sun and carbon dioxide. If commercially successful, this type of process could revolutionize the world of fuels.

Alternative fuels have always been an attractive option from an environmental point of view. However, they have never really become competitive with fossil fuels on cost and ease of production. They are generally more expensive and harder to generate than oil, coal and gas – or they require massive expensive new infrastructure to operate in society. But now, according to this month’s Reuters and Business Wire, Joule Biotechnologies may have solved all of that in a completely different way than previously contemplated.

They have developed an innovative energy solution called Helioculture™ technology. This technology harnesses sunlight to directly convert carbon dioxide into liquid energy that works just like fossil fuels, can be distributed from a station pump in the same manner as gas or diesel, on the same production level as gas, oil or coal and probably even at a slightly cheaper cost. According to Business Wire, “This eco-friendly, direct-to-fuel conversion requires no agricultural land or fresh water, and leverages a highly scalable system capable of producing more than 20,000 gallons of renewable ethanol or hydrocarbons per acre annually—far eclipsing productivity levels of current alternatives while rivaling the costs of fossil fuels.”

Joule Biotechnology’s new liquid energy supposedly meets today’s vehicle fuel specifications and infrastructure, and the company anticipates cheap commercial production costs at less than $50 per barrel. The company’s first product offering, SolarEthanol™ fuel, should be ready for commercial production sometime in 2010.

I look at this and think, “Wow, could this be a major alternative fuel breakthrough?” I guess that we will wait and see what happens next year!


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