US Company Announces Bioheating Oil Breakthrough
18th September 2010
In a move which could revolutionise the production of Bioheating Oil, Joule Unlimited, Inc., a US based alternative liquid fuels specialist, has announced the receipt of a U.S. patent covering the conversion of sunlight and waste carbon dioxide (CO2) directly into liquid hydrocarbons that are fungible with conventional diesel fuel.
Unlike traditional biofuel processes that require intermediates such as sugar, algae, agricultural biomass or tallow, Joule is the first to achieve and patent a direct, single-step, continuous process for the production of hydrocarbon fuels requiring no raw material feedstocks. The Cambridge, Massachusetts business claims this sets the stage for the production of a liquid fossil fuel replacement at costs as low as $30 per barrel equivalent.
U.S. Patent #7,794,969, titled "Methods and Compositions for the Recombinant Biosynthesis of n-Alkanes," covers the use of engineered photosynthetic microorganisms for the direct synthesis of diesel molecules. Joule's microorganisms function as biocatalysts that use only sunlight, waste CO2 and non-fresh water to directly and continuously produce diesel-range hydrocarbons, which are chemically distinct from biodiesel and are compatible with existing supply infrastructure and combustion technology.
The company claims the issuance of the patent, the path for large-scale renewable fuel production, addressing many of the cost, resource and energy constraints, which typify existing liquid biofuel production.
"This patent award represents a critical milestone for our IP strategy and validates the truly revolutionary nature of our process, which has the potential to yield infrastructure-compatible replacements for fossil fuels at meaningful scale and highly-competitive costs, even before subsidies," said Bill Sims, President and CEO of Joule Unlimited.
"Our vision since inception has been to overcome the limitations of biomass-based technologies, from feedstock costs and logistics to inefficient, energy-intensive processing. The result is the world's first platform for converting sunlight and waste CO2 directly into diesel, requiring no costly intermediates, no use of agricultural land or fresh water, and no downstream processing."
Joule's advances in biology are one aspect of the company's integrated HeliocultureTM platform, which also incorporates process, materials, photonic and thermal engineering to create an optimal system for the efficient production of fuels and chemicals.
The company's novel SolarConverterTM system has been developed to maximize photon-to-fuel conversion efficiency, and features a modular, scalable design for ease of deployment, dependent only upon land and waste CO2 availability. The integrated platform will enable productivities above any other closed-system approach, with a commercial target of 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre annually.
Joule has already proven the direct production of diesel, and will begin pilot production by the end of 2010. The company has also proven the direct production of ethanol via the same process at a rate of 10,000 gallons/acre/year, 40% of its ultimate productivity target, and pilot operations are underway in Leander, Texas.
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Article Last Updated 7th November 2010