Genetically Engineered Biofuel
A Massachusetts company, Joule Biotechnologies, has unveiled what it
says is a technological breakthrough that uses genetically engineered
organisms, sunlight, water, and concentrated carbon dioxide to produce up to 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre. The much-watched startup claims that its
secret organisms, coupled with photo bioreactors, not only directly
produce an ethanol-like fuel but also secrete the fuel continuously. As
a result, Joule officials say, its so-called “helioculture process” can
produce up to 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre — four to 10 times
greater than algae-based biofuel experiments — and can do so at $50 per
gallon, which is far cheaper than other algal biofuel processes.
Independent observers said that while Joule’s technology looks
promising, it still faces many hurdles as it attempts to take its
breakthrough from the lab and mass-produce fuel. Joule says it will
open a pilot plant in the Southwest early next year and commercially
produce biofuels by the end of 2010. Joule’s project is one of several well-financed efforts to genetically engineer organisms to produce biofuels.