Future of biofuels: Are alternative, sustainable, GMO bacteria-based fuels a pipe dream?

lab
A worker holds up a container of carbon-based fuel at the lab of now-defunct Joule Unlimited

[Joule Unlimited] was designing a system that would produce diesel fuel or gasoline using nothing more than the sun, carbon dioxide, water, and a genetically modified bacterium. It would be available for about $1.20 a gallon — without government subsidies…Joule’s tagline said that it was “solving the energy crisis with affordable, renewable clean fuel,” and the company managed to attract $200 million in financing from investors, including Cambridge-based Flagship Pioneering and the German carmaker Audi, which was eager to test Joule’s sustainable fuel.

Last month, though, the company auctioned off its New Mexico facility.

John Beneman, an expert on algae-based biofuels, notes that Joule isn’t an anomaly. “There are other companies out there that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and come up with the same results — either they are walking dead, or ghosts, or resting in peace,” says Beneman, who is also chief executive of the consulting firm MicroBio Engineering in California.

ADVERTISEMENT

Does Beneman believe it’s just impossible to use a genetically engineered organism to make an affordable, more sustainable kind of fuel, rather than extracting it from the earth? “I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that it requires long-term work,” he says.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: How a biofuel dream turned into a nightmare

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
Send this to a friend