SG Biofuels Completes $9.4M Series A Financing
Government of Canada Awarding $18.79M to Biodiesel Producer

Joule Awarded Patent on Renewable Diesel Production Directly from Sunlight and CO2

Joule Unlimited, Inc., has been awarded a US patent covering its conversion of sunlight and waste carbon dioxide directly into liquid hydrocarbons that are fungible with conventional diesel fuel. 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, enabling fossil fuel replacement at high efficiencies and costs as low as $30 per barrel equivalent. (Earlier post.)

The company’s first patent, US Patent #7,785,861, “Hyperphotosynthetic Organisms,” relates to aspects of an engineered photosynthetic microorganism for fuel production, and was granted on 31 August 2010. This second patent, US 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 infrastructure.

This achievement in industrial bioprocessing clears the path for large-scale renewable fuel production, addressing the cost, resource constraints and energy-intensive steps associated with biomass growth, harvesting, extraction and refining to reach an end product, Joule says. The entire process produces more net energy than it consumes and yields sulfur-free, ultra-clean diesel.

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.

—Bill Sims, President and CEO, Joule

Joule’s advances in biology are one critical aspect of the company’s integrated Helioculture platform, which also incorporates process, materials, photonic and thermal engineering to create an optimal system for the efficient production of fuels and chemicals.

Joule’s novel SolarConverter system has been developed to maximize photon-to-fuel conversion efficiency, and features a modular, scalable design for ease of deployment, dependent only on 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.

Since inception Joule has pursued a strong IP position, operating in “stealth mode” for its first two years as patent applications were filed. Joule’s IP portfolio now includes two issued US patents and numerous patent filings resulting from more than three years of on-going development, covering its core technologies, system and integrated process.


  • US Patent #7,785,861, Hyperphotosynthetic Organisms

  • US Patent #7,794,969, Methods and Compositions for the Recombinant Biosynthesis of n-Alkanes



"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, enabling fossil fuel replacement at high efficiencies and costs as low as $30 per barrel equivalent."

If true - implement, 24/7, at the biggest coal power plants - now. There should be plenty of truckers ready


Let's hope that they license at a reasonable rate so that it can do some good for the many and not just a few.


It almost sounds too good to be true....$30 per barrel efficiency? Sounds awesome. You'd think coal plants would be all over this. They're not going to do it overnight though --- there'd be a significant amount of revenue that would have to be raised by a coal company to invest in a large scale production facility and it would probably take years to build.


Why does this sound like a different name for "Algae?"

$30/barrel sounds good. I wonder if that includes credits for CO2 abatement at the coal plant?

I also wonder how hearty the organisms are?


If direct sunlight is an essential element, CO2 (and sufficient water) may have to be piped to the nearest desert. Production may be limited to about 8h/day but given the size of desert lands in USA, it could have a major impact on lower cost liquid fuel and could reduce crude imports.


HB - My thoughts exactly ...


A quick review proves us wrong. The basic critter is E. coli.

These folks have really done their homework. I have little doubt that their invention will someday be the replacement for fossil fuels.

Maybe all is not lost after all !!!

Henry Gibson

Sorry microorganisms need more than CO2 and water; they also need nitrogen and sulphur and potassium and phosphorus and iron and sodium and a bunch of other elements and compounds.

What will this e-coli do to people if it gets into the environment. I was talking to a man yesterday that had an e-Coli infection for more than ten years and required 27 major surgeries. What will the growth channels cost to cover an acre. What will the acre of land cost. Will it be more efficient to use parabolic solar collectors on that area that need no water and no CO2 and generate electricity for automobile batteries.

I will leave it as an exercise for another reader to use the total solar energy input of the sunniest spot in the US and see what the efficiency of conversion is from solar to fuel. Then the average conversion efficiency of an automobile ICE gets rid of at least 75 percent of the energy of the sun. How much energy is needed to operate the system and extract the oil from the organisms.

Nuclear puts 30 percent of the fission energy on the wires from a very small area. ..HG..

Roger Pham

@Jim and Henry,

At 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre, the solar efficiency of this bio-fuel scheme is in order of 10%! Quite extraordinary! At $30-50 USD per barrel, Joule will eat OPEC's lunch! A typical US house of 2500 square feet of roof area will produce ~1250 gallons of biofuel yearly, assuming average daily incident solar energy of only 6kWh/sq meter. Assuming that people will drive a vehicle capable of 35mpg in the near future (thanks to CAFE), this much biofuel can propel an average family sedan over 43,000 miles/year!

A massive ramming up of this biofuel program will one day allow us to produce all our petroleum demand here at home, and even have left over for export. This will certainly create millions of new job and foster another era of economic growth. Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Conoco, Haliburton, etc...are y'all with us or against us? Y'all have all the political muscle and all the money to carry it through. BP, this is your unique chance to redeem your gravest sin to our Gulf region!!!

And, long live to the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine).

Henry Gibson

Thanks. You have made it obvious that electrical generation from solar cells, even, is better. People would be quite lucky to get 6 kilowatt hours per day per square meter raw input.

The cost of oil production for almost every well in the world is less than 5 dollars a barrel and sometimes less than one dollar. Any investors in a project that produces oil at 30 dollars a barrel can be wiped out by a few years at 20. But ethanol is a drain on the economy and a net producer of CO2, so there is no reason that these people should not do likewise. ..HG..


I see Joule as just a company following Algenol's footprints. Algenol should be a year or so ahead of Joule in deveopment and already has test plants under construction.


Its good to see this sort of news, as it sends very strong signals that private mobility could have a sustainable future, as part, of course, of a wider integrated mix of transport solutions. After all there's no one size fits all approach. Walking, cycling, taking the bus and driving all have their own advantages and also drawbacks - some of which are exaggerated by certain political persuasions. Hence this means that we won't be seeing these headlines soon on any fundamentalist environmental website's media pages.


30$ for a barrel of clean diesel is a very low price. diesel from petroleum cost 5$ a barrel plus refining for approx 8$ a barrel plus transport for another 2$ a barrel but the profit mark-up is 150$ a barrel and they lose co2 into the air.

Im interrested to buy a small solar power machine from joule to make diesel at home to resale it to local diesel freaks. These machines can be put on sale in every wallmarts or general hardware stores for home- small business customers.

And especially don't disturb me anymore with polluting co2 exhaust stacks. Just put machines like this to recapture co2 and transform it in fuels with the joule patents or any other patents and/or methods. Solar can be sythetized by lights for night production.

Do butanol too, my car need butanol, diesel is to resale.


HG - France, with nuclear power providing 80% of its electricity, does prove your point. But French citizens, for maybe 10% higher total taxes, also have actual universal health care, free college tuition(even to the Doctorate level), national 200 mph electric rail/130 million annual passengers, job security and a general feeling of well being.

This seems to flow from representatives who actually fear their citizens, even rioting citizens, more than all corporate special interests, lobbying, and payoffs combined.

History is clear, invading other countries bleeds a nation economically, and otherwise, to death. The balancing compensation is that "to the victor belong the spoils", but - even with the "mission accomplished" - where are Joe American's spoils?

Aside from accumulating their own personal wealth, US leaders have somehow managed to return only crushing national debt(average, six(6) figures each) to the citizen's of the world's greatest super power for sixty years and only super power for the past twenty years and counting!

In other words, what works and would be in the US citizen's interest clearly can't be our representative's actual agenda.


How much do they sell their smallest machine for home use ? I have the space and i have a wood burner, im all set and ready to produce fuels. Please make an offer. Forget the millions of unnemployed it will make in traditionnal petrol extraction and refining it will make, not counting the millions of new unnemployed in useless subsidized governemental research programms of any sorts. Peoples can make endless researchs without subsidies by their own in internet and local clubs and small, medium and big business, 1 employee and up. Many folks can clean old seventies car that do 10-12 m.p.g and bring back these nice car on the road again with cheap fuels. The price of conventionnal fuels and new cars will shrink and traffic on the roads will be huge, probably many will return in the agricultural zones and build raceways and race big powerful racecars all day long.

Roger Pham

Hi Henry,
You've made a good point, that OPEC will lower the price of a barrel of oil down to $20 to wipe out Joule and investors. Therefore, like I have posted many times before, we will need Uncle Sam to play along as a partner:

First, adjust petroleum taxes as often as possible, so as to prevent retail price dropping of gasoline.

Second, legislate a gradually-increasing retail price of petroleum fuels that perhaps will double the pump prices of gasoline and diesel in 10-15 years and thereafter will stay the same level, or increasing at a lower rate. The yearly-mandated increase in retail fuel prices is so slow that most people can afford and adapt. Wise people will appreciate this, since this a great insurance against the price-gouging and sudden price-doubling-economy-destroying petroleum price hikes of 2008 and of previous decades.

Wise petroleum executives, boards, and investors will play along with Uncle Same and the people, by investing in renewable fuels development, instead of play foul and become obstructionists to the detriment of all human and living things in the Earth. The petroleum industry will have nothing to lose and billions of USD to gain, and all of us will have everything to gain...except for the Devil, who won't sleep easy and will try to corrupt the minds of many susceptible weaklings!!!


The low cost high volume producers like Saudi Arabia could drop the price of oil and did it in the 80s to "instill discipline" in the OPEC ranks. That was one of the reasons we stayed addicted to oil.

Dave K.

First, don't bet on the $30/barrel price, CWT talked about a similar number before they built their turkey waste plant next to Butterball and in the end it was $90/barrel! Second, I don't think OPEC can pull the price collapse trick again, they don't have the spare capacity. My hope is this kind of thing can keep the planes flying and the combines running but there's no doubt in my mind we're going to mostly drive EVs, the efficiency numbers are just too good. Still great news!


I don't think Saudi Arabia can nor would lower it like they did. The more likely scenario would be supply being less than demand from here on out, China going for 200 million cars and a bidding war that exceeds anything seen so far.

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