Joule Unlimited: Biofuels Digest’s 5-Minute Guide

October 25, 2012 |

Address: 83 Rogers Street, Cambridge, MA 02142

Year founded: 2007

Company description:

Joule is advancing a production platform for Liquid Fuel from the Sun™, expected to eclipse the scale, productivity and cost efficiency of any known alternative to fossil fuel today. Its transformative Helioculture™ platform directly and continuously converts sunlight and waste CO2 to infrastructure-ready diesel, ethanol or commodity chemicals with no dependence on biomass feedstocks, downstream processing or precious natural resources. This process can yield renewable fuels and chemicals in unprecedented volumes with a fraction of the land required by current methods, leapfrogging biomass-dependent approaches and eliminating the economic and environmental disadvantages of fossil fuels. Additional information is available at

Major Investors

Flagship Ventures plus private and institutional investors

Type of Technology(ies)

A platform for the direct, continuous conversion of sunlight and waste CO2 to liquid fuels and chemicals.


Industrial waste CO2


Hydrocarbon diesel, ethanol and multiple chemicals conventionally derived from petroleum

Product Cost (if applicable – per US gallon): (Costs per US gallon for fuels, costs per pound for chemicals and/or biomaterials. If you do not manufacture or have long-term stable feedstock pricing, please use the latest December futures contract pricing for traded feedstocks, or $55/ton for untraded biomass – or provide notes on your own feedstock pricing assumptions).

Diesel = $0.48/gallon with subsidies ($1.19/gallon without subsidies)
Ethanol = $0.60/gallon with subsidies ($1.23/gallon without subsidies)

Past Milestones

• Built pilot plant and commenced production.
• Issuance of the company’s first 6 U.S. patents (and counting), with 70+ applications pending.
• Completed construction of demonstration plant and begin operations
• Completed construction on its first commercial-scale unit in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Future Milestones

• Continue technology/system optimization towards ethanol and diesel productivity targets
• Incrementally scale up to commercial production and deployment of facilities worldwide, with commercially available products less expensive than biofuels.

Business Model: 
The company intends to commercially develop diesel fuel and also bring products to market via strategic development partnerships. Joule will also provide SolarConverter hardware, technology and deployment know-how transfer and controlled access to production strains.

Competitive Edge(s):

• Proven conversion of sunlight and waste CO2 directly into infrastructure-ready


• Diesel (hydrocarbons), ethanol and value-added chemicals

• Directly produces fungible fuels vs. oils that require refining or chemical upgrading
• No dependence on costly biomass feedstocks or complex processing/logistics
• An integrated system up to 100X more efficient than biomass-dependent processes
• Productivity up to 15,000 gal diesel/acre/year and 25,000 gal ethanol/acre/year
• Costs (including capital) as low as $20/bble of diesel and $0.60/gal ethanol, including subsidies
• Fully modular system and scalable to billions of gallons with comparatively minimal land use
• Ecologically-sound process doesn’t require arable land or fresh water
• Strong IP position with 6 U.S. patents granted and 70+ applications filed
• World-class team of biologists, biochemists, engineers, industrial experts and executive leadership

Stage (Bench, pilot, demonstration, commercial)


Company Website


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Category: 5-Minute Guide

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