Palaver's End

The final point after prolonged and idle discussion

Joule Unlimited Claims It Can Make Diesel Fuel With Sun, Water & CO2

Source:  The Huffington Post. 27 February, 2011.

Excerpt: Joule Unlimited has invented a genetically-engineered organism that it says simply secretes diesel fuel or ethanol wherever it finds sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company says it can manipulate the organism to produce the renewable fuels on demand at unprecedented rates, and can do it in facilities large and small at costs comparable to the cheapest fossil fuels.

The skeptics of this method of diesel production via genetically engineered organisms don’t argue the validity of the science behind this extraordinary claim. Rather they question if it’s technologically and economically feasible to extract the diesel from a pool of water where apparently the ratio of water to fuel is high.

I immediately thought of last year’s BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and how some of the oil had been extracted with a machine that Kevin Costner had developed along with his scientist brother, Dan. Apparently, the machine separates oil from water by centrifuge. A single machine can recover 200 gallons of fuel an hour. This seems an elegant alternative-use solution for the extraction of fuel from a pool of water and oil. The only economic limiting factor is the production costs of centrifuging.

Nevertheless, whatever method they anticipate of extracting the fuel from the water, Joule Unlimited insists that it can produce fuel at a cost of $30 a barrel. 

We’ll see.

One thing worries me: Can this genetically engineered cyanobacterium reproduce? If so, I scarcely can imagine the ecological disaster if this bacterium was let loose in a world rich in sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. Too bad Crichton is gone; this would make a great sci-fi-that-can-be-true novel. ♠

  1. palaversend posted this