|[August 15, 2014]
Joule Achieves Industry First with a 100% Increase in Photosynthetic Efficiency
BEDFORD, Mass. --(Business Wire)--
Overcoming the limitations of photosynthesis, Joule has successfully
co-opted nature's primary energy capture process at unprecedented
efficiencies for direct, continuous fuel production. This includes the
engineering of a photosynthetic biocatalyst able to divert 95% of fixed
carbon normally converted to biomass directly to fuel, and the industry
first improvement of its photon energy conversion efficiency. This means
that Joule has not only effectively re-channeled photosynthesis, but
improved its overall energy capture efficiency by nearly 100% in outdoor
testing at Joule's demonstration facility in Hobbs, New Mexico.
The results of this work were presented at the 2014 Society for
Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB) Annual Meeting in St.
Prior research has generally capped the photon energy conversion
efficiency of photosynthetic processes at 2 - 3%. This was based on
observations of photosynthesis in nature, where it encounters its two
significant drains of useful energy - photorespiration and
photoinhibition. These conditions prevent the optimal use of CO2
and light, and cannot be regulated in open outdoor environments. By
contrast, Joule has applied a systems approach that spans biocatalyst,
reactor and process engineering to negate the effects of these
conditions, resulting in many-fold greater energy conversion
efficiencies and supporting Joule's estimated maximum of 14%.
"By effectivey taking photosynthesis out of nature and into a
controlled system, we have been able to realize its industrial
potential," said Dan Robertson, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Joule.
"Our biocatalyst, reactor and process have been developed in parallel to
solve a natural mismatch between the photosynthetic conversion of energy
and the metabolic processes which use that energy. As a result, we have
demonstrated a production platform unlike any other - capable of
producing liquid fuels directly from sunlight and CO2 with
efficiencies previously thought unattainable."
Joule's work was presented at the SIMB Annual Meeting during a session
on the metabolic engineering of photosynthetic microbes. These microbes
use sunlight and CO2 to produce molecules essential for their
own growth. Using a variety of techniques to genomically engineer these
microbes, Joule has changed the products of this natural process into
fuel molecules, including ethanol and diesel. Additional details on
Joule's breakthrough approach can be found in a peer-reviewed
paper published by Photosynthesis Research.
More information about the SIMB Annual Meeting is available here.
Joule has pioneered a CO2-to-fuel production platform,
effectively reversing combustion through the use of solar energy. The
company's platform applies engineered catalysts to continuously convert
waste CO2 directly into renewable fuels such as ethanol or
hydrocarbons for diesel, jet fuel and gasoline. Free of feedstock
constraints and complex processing, Joule's process can achieve
unrivaled scalability, volumes and costs without the use of any
agricultural land, fresh water or crops. Joule is privately held and has
raised over $160 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. Additional
information is available at www.jouleunlimited.com.
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