Skip to content

Two years into development, innovative startup enables path to energy independence; Unveils proprietary production system capable of supplying unlimited quantities of renewable fuel at costs competitive with fossil fuels

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Joule Biotechnologies, Inc., an innovative bioengineering startup developing game-changing alternative energy solutions, today unveiled its breakthrough Helioculture™ technology—a revolutionary process that harnesses sunlight to directly convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into SolarFuel™ liquid energy. This eco-friendly, direct-to-fuel conversion requires no agricultural land or fresh water, and leverages a highly scalable system capable of producing more than 20,000 gallons of renewable ethanol or hydrocarbons per acre annually—far eclipsing productivity levels of current alternatives while rivaling the costs of fossil fuels.

“There is no question that viable, renewable fuels are vitally important, both for economic and environmental reasons. And while many novel approaches have been explored, none has been able to clear the roadblocks caused by high production costs, environmental burden and lack of real scale,” said Bill Sims, president and CEO of Joule Biotechnologies. “Joule was created for the very purpose of eliminating these roadblocks with the best equation of biotechnology, engineering, scalability and pricing to finally make renewable fuel a reality—all while helping the environment by reducing global CO2 emissions.”

Joule’s transformative Helioculture process leverages highly engineered photosynthetic organisms to catalyze the conversion of sunlight and CO2 to usable transportation fuels and chemicals. The scalable SolarConverter™ system facilitates the entire process—from sunlight capture to product conversion and separation—with minimal resources and polishing operations. This represents a significant advantage over biomass-derived biofuels, including newer algae- and cellulose-based forms, which are hindered by varying obstacles: costly biomass production, numerous processing steps, substantial scale-up risk and capital costs.

The modular SolarConverter design is engineered to meet demand on a global scale while requiring just a fraction of the land needed for biomass-based approaches. It can be easily customized depending on land size, CO2 availability and desired output. The functionality is proven and can readily scale from smaller operations with limited land to extensive commercial plants. Additional benefits enabled by the system include:

“Today’s leading scientists and engineers have been called upon to solve one of the greatest challenges of our time: how to take promising theories and turn them into real, impact-making strides towards energy independence,” said Noubar Afeyan, founder and chairman of Joule Biotechnologies. “Joule is doing exactly that—creating an entirely novel solution that combines the best of solar energy and biofuels, while eliminating their respective weaknesses. The result is a system that can operate at very large scale and provide efficient conversion and storage of solar power without relying on fossil or agricultural products as raw materials.”

Joule SolarFuel liquid energy meets today’s vehicle fuel specifications and infrastructure, and is expected to achieve widespread production at the energy equivalent of less than $50 per barrel. The company’s first product offering, SolarEthanol™ fuel, will be ready for commercial-scale development in 2010. Joule has also demonstrated proof of concept for producing hydrocarbon fuel and expects process demonstration by 2011.

About Joule Biotechnologies

Joule Biotechnologies, Inc. is tackling the global energy crisis with a game-changing, renewable alternative to fossil fuels. Its patent-pending Helioculture™ technology surpasses the limitations of other clean fuel approaches by harnessing sunlight to convert CO2 directly into SolarFuel™ liquid energy. This direct-to-fuel conversion requires no fresh water and just a fraction of the land needed for biomass-derived alternatives, avoids costly intermediaries and processing, and finally enables the scale, unlimited quantities and pricing required for energy independence. Founded in 2007 by Flagship Ventures, Joule is privately held and headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Additional information is available at


Schwartz Communications
Dan Borgasano, 781-684-6660