Joule partners with Audi, commissions demonstration plant

By Erin Voegele | September 17, 2012

Joule Unlimited recently announced it has partnered with auto manufacturer Audi AG to accelerate the commercialization of its biofuels, Sunflow-E and Sunflow-D, for introduction into the respective ethanol and diesel markets.

According to information released by the company, Audi has selected Joule to be its exclusive partner in the development of biologically-derived diesel and ethanol. The relationship will include fuel testing and validation activities, lifecycle analyses and support for Joule’s Hobbs, N.M.-based demonstration facility. Joule also said it will benefit from Audi’s expertise, global reach and brand strength.

The partnership fits with Audi’s goal of becoming a carbon-neutral transportation provider. “We are very pleased to announce this strategic partnership with Joule, which offers genuine potential for CO2-neutral mobility,” said Reiner Mangold, head of environmental product at Audi. “Joule and the fuels it is developing can ultimately enable sustainable mobility, as its highly-efficient process consumes waste CO2 emissions, avoids depletion of natural resources and doesn’t require agricultural feedstock or arable land. It is the ideal sustainable fuel platform for Audi to support.”

According to William Sims, president and CEO of Joule, the partnership will help his company advance its commercial plans. “In just a few years, we have made significant strides towards offering sustainable fuel production at the costs, productivity and scale that have eluded biofuels, and with Audi as a key supporter of our demonstration facility, we expect to have global market impact in the near future and well beyond,” he said.

Joule also recently announced the commissioning of its SunSprings demonstration plant, which is located in Hobbs, N.M. According to the company, it aims to show that its uniquely modular system can achieve replicable results whether installed across one acre or 1,000 acres.

The company’s technology uses optimized microorganisms that act as living catalysts to produce fuel without the use of biomass or sugar feedstocks. Rather, the process employs these microorganisms to convert sunlight and CO2 directly into end products, including ethanol, diesel and commodity chemicals.

“This project is the culmination of advances not only in our core technology, but in building a commercial-ready system and engineering a scalable process that are now pilot-tested and prepared for deployment,” said Sims.

According to information released by the company, Joule’s SunSprings demonstration plant will begin with the production of ethanol. To date, the company has achieved productivity rates of 15,000 and 8,000 gallons per year respectively in lab-scale and pilot-scale operations. Joule is currently targeting productivity levels of 10,000 gallons per acre annually, with long-term targets of 25,000 gallons per acre annually.