Biotech company claims to be able to produce fossil fuels for US$30 a barrel.
US Biotech company Joule Unlimted received a patent last year for a “proprietry organism” – a genetically engineered cyanobacterium that produces liquid hydrocarbons: diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline. This breakthrough technology, the company says, will deliver renewable supplies of liquid fossil fuel almost anywhere on Earth, in essentially unlimited quantity and at an energy-cost equivalent of $30 (U.S.) a barrel of crude oil. It will deliver, the company says, “fossil fuels on demand.”
Unlike biofuel schemes that require ‘feedstock’ to produce fuel, this technology uses only carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water to produce fuels.
Joule says it now has “a library” of fossil-fuel organisms at work in its Massachusetts labs, each engineered to produce a different fuel - gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.
While it’s worth taking these claims with a grain of salt (similar schemes have been seen before), this one seems to have a lot more credibility. The World Technology Network just named the company the world’s top corporate player in bio-energy research. Biofuels Digest named it one of the world’s “50 hottest” bio-energy enterprises.
When U.S. Senator John Kerry toured the company’s labs in October, he called the technology “a potential game-changer.” He noted, ironically, that the company’s science is so advanced that it can’t qualify for federal grants or subsidies: The government’s definition of biofuels requires the use of raw-material feedstock.