Joule Gets Biofuel Bacteria Patent
Cambridge, MA-based Joule Unlimited, a biofuels technology company, announced today it has been granted a U.S. patent for an engineered bacterium that produces liquid hydrocarbon fuels from sunlight and carbon dioxide. The company says it is the first to patent a direct, single-step, continuous process (based on photosynthesis) for producing hydrocarbon fuels without using raw material feedstocks like sugar or corn, or other intermediate steps. Joule says this process could be made cheap enough, and could be employed at large enough scale, to help replace fossil fuels. The news was first reported by the New York Times; a CNET report also has some useful context. Other companies in the biofuels technology sector include Amyris Biotechnologies, Aurora Algae, Bio Architecture Lab, LS9, Sapphire Energy, Synthetic Genomics, and Targeted Growth. Joule says it will begin pilot production of diesel fuel by the end of this year.