Audi Backs a Biofuels Startup

By Kevin Bullis, Technology Review:

Joule Unlimited, a startup whose engineered microörganisms produce ethanol from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, announced the commissioning of a new demonstration plant last week that will start producing ethanol within the next few weeks. Today, the company announced a partnership with Audi that will help Joule develop and test its fuels. The financial details of the partnership weren’t released, but not including the Audi partnership, Joule has raised $110 million.

In small-scale outdoor tests, Joule has shown that its approach, which involves engineered microörganisms housed in special transparent reactors, could produce 8,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year, a few times more than other advanced biofuels companies (see “TR10: Solar Fuel” and “A Biofuel Process to Replace All Fossil Fuels”). As Joule moves its technology to market, it has abandoned its original elaborate reactors in favor of simple plastic tubes—a move that Joule says makes the process more economical… Read more

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