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Home » Biorefinery Infrastructure, Business News/Analysis, Farming/Growing, Infrastructure, New Mexico, Not Agriculture, Process, R & D Focus

Whiskey from Soda: Jraises $70M, Heads for Commercialization

Submitted by on January 18, 2012 – 9:30 amNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  …So, along comes Joule. It’s a known fact that some microorganisms could be modified or evolved to ferment gaseous carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide. Combine that with some hydrogen taken from water, and voila, you have the beginnings of making a hydrocarbon.

Joule itself has developed a modified cyanobacteria that, housed in an ingenious feat of engineering known as a SolarConverter, uses solar energy to help it to produce ethanol, or hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel, using waste carbon dioxide, non-potable water, and a package of nutrients.

So when we titled this article “Whiskey from Soda,” we don’t mean to trivialize the technology, but simply to observe that alcohol is being made, primarily, from a combination of water and CO2, a/k/a seltzer or soda. Pretty neat trick, considering that it’s a going business just to affordably make plain seltzer, using CO2 and water. But ethanol? Diesel? We live in a magical time.

The entire system is known as a Helioculture platform, and the claim at Joule that it can produce renewable fuels at a rate of up to 100 times that of competing biomass-based system, will shortly be put to the scale-up test.

…What do you get for $70 million? You get, for now, the build-out and operation of a Joule facility located in Hobbs, New Mexico (just across the Texas border, northwest of Odessa, TX), slated for commissioning this summer.

The demonstration facility is designed to test and optimize Joule’s Helioculture process and SolarConverter system at incrementally larger scales, with the potential to expand to 1,000 acres for initial commercial production. so, up to 25 million gallons at full commercial scale.

…What could stop Joule from ruling the world?    It takes a whole lotta watta, even of the non-potable type, …

It takes a lot of carbon dioxide, too. Even if it is waste CO2, there are only so many sources and locations that work, at scale, until science comes up with an affordable means of aggregating atmospheric CO2.  READ MORE

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