Global Challenge, Global Solutions: Biofuel Made from Waste CO2 and Sunlight

Us­ing the same prin­ciples as pho­to­syn­thesis, Joule pro­duces re­new­able trans­port­a­tion fuels from sun­light, waste CO2, and non-pot­able wa­ter.

“Global Challenge, Global Solutions” is a series hosted on Climasphere highlighting inspiring, innovative, and creative global solutions to the challenge of climate change in the lead up to the next major climate conference, COP22. These solutions have been provided by members of the Earth To Marrakech coalition, a group of more than 50 media organizations, civil society groups, and businesses from around the world who are raising their voices in a collective call to move from words to action on climate change. Let’s send a message, from Earth To Marrakech: The solutions to climate change are out there, and they’re inspiring. 

Biofuel Made from Waste CO2 and Sunlight


Joule has de­veloped a tech­no­logy trans­form­ing waste CO2 into bio­fuel. The pro­cess starts when a li­quid me­dium con­sist­ing of en­gin­eered bac­teria and non-pot­able wa­ter is in­tro­duced to a mod­u­lar cir­cu­la­tion unit of trans­par­ent pipes. When the bac­teria have reached the right dens­ity re­quired for fuel pro­duc­tion, waste CO2 is pumped from an industrial emitter or pipeline to the cir­cu­la­tion unit, keep­ing the bac­teria in mo­tion, and max­im­iz­ing their ex­pos­ure to sun­light in or­der to drive the pho­to­syn­thesis-like pro­cess to pro­duce the fi­nal fuel.

The pro­cess re­quires no corn, sugar, or fresh wa­ter. The U.S. En­vir­on­mental Pro­tec­tion Agency has re­gistered Joule’s Sun­flow-E eth­anol for com­mer­cial use in gas­ol­ine blends, provid­ing car­bon-neut­ral fuel that does not re­quire changes to in­fra­struc­ture. Joule has raised more than $200 million in funding to date, suc­cess­fully pi­lot-tested the plat­form and tech­no­logy over more than two years, and is work­ing hard to pre­pare the in­nov­at­ive fuel for fi­nal com­mer­cial use.

2015 re­gistered as the warmest year on re­cord, and to pre­vent fur­ther tem­per­at­ure in­creases, global CO2 emis­sions must be drastic­ally re­duced. 1 By con­vert­ing waste CO2 into a raw ma­ter­ial in fuel pro­duc­tion, Joule’s tech­no­logy can res­ult in massively re­duced CO2 emis­sions and achieve high scalab­il­ity without the use of ag­ri­cul­tural land, fresh wa­ter, or crops.



Joule of­fers a clean al­tern­at­ive to the 530 bil­lion liters of gas­ol­ine con­sumed in USA in 2015, of which 92% were pet­ro­leum-based.2

A mod­u­lar pro­duc­tion sys­tem makes it easy to roll out and ex­pand the solu­tion.

The fuel can be util­ized without changes to in­fra­struc­ture, re­du­cing the costs of trans­ition­ing from fossil fuels to more sus­tain­able en­ergy sources.

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