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Joule issued patent on production of medium chain-length alkanes from sunlight and CO2; diesel, jet fuel and gasoline

Joule, the developer of engineered photosynthetic bacteria as catalysts for the direct production of targeted fuel molecules in a continuous, single-step conversion process, announced the issuance of an additional patent, extending its ability to target the highest-value molecules of the petroleum distillation process and generate them on demand from sunlight and CO2.

US Patent Nº 9,034,629, issued on 19 May, covers both the cyanobacterium and the process for directly converting CO2 into medium chain-length alkanes (C7-11), which are in the diesel, jet fuel and gasoline ranges.

Examples from the patent document of pathways for the production of medium chain-length alkanes. The engineered cyanobacteria comprise recombinant genes encoding one or more enzymes which catalyze the production of medium chain-length alkanes. Click to enlarge.

This latest issuance complements Joule’s existing patents on the production of long-chain alkanes, ethanol and multiple chemicals, protecting the company’s capability to produce a full breadth of drop-in products without biomass feedstocks or complex refining. Because the process consumes waste CO2 emissions, the resulting fuels can enable carbon-neutral transportation by supplanting their petroleum-derived counterparts.

Free of feedstock constraints and complex processing, Joule’s process can achieve scalability, volumes and costs without the use of any agricultural land, fresh water or crops. Joule is privately held and has raised more than $200 million in funding to date, led by Flagship Ventures. The company operates from Bedford, Massachusetts and The Hague, The Netherlands with production operations in Hobbs, New Mexico.


richard schumacher

Excellent. Now when the hell are we going to see retail products? I would happily pay $6 per gallon for carbon-neutral gasoline for my Prius.

Dr. Strange Love

Richard, would you pay them $6 a gallon to top-off your 1975 AMC Pacer?

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