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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Joule Biotechnologies, Inc. today announced the signing of a lease agreement to build its first pilot plant in Leander, Texas, where the company will further develop and test its transformative system for the production of renewable solar fuels. Powered by sunlight and free of costly feedstocks or processing steps, the system is being engineered to eclipse the productivities, scale and cost efficiencies of biomass-dependent approaches. The site was chosen in part for its high solar insolation and logistically convenient location. The plant will be operational within the first half of 2010.

“We are excited to take the next step with pilot-scale development of our renewable solar fuels, following our progress in the lab and also in outdoor testing,” said Bill Sims, president and CEO, Joule Biotechnologies. “Our combined advances in genome engineering, bioprocessing and systems engineering have enabled a first-of-its-kind platform for the production of direct solar fuels, including ethanol and diesel. Now we have the opportunity to test and optimize our processes on a larger scale, driving towards our productivity targets while also demonstrating the ease with which our system can scale up.”

Unlike many existing and emergent approaches to producing renewable fuel, Joule’s process achieves a high net energy balance while avoiding the harmful depletion of arable land, fresh water or crops. This is made possible by the company’s Helioculture™ technology, which leverages abundant solar energy and genome-engineered organisms to convert waste CO2 directly into multiple solar fuels and chemicals. The continuous production process requires no biomass intermediates, removing resource limitations and costly processing from the equation.

Joule’s facility in Leander will be equipped to test multiple end products, beginning with ethanol. This is a key advantage of the company’s SolarConverter™ system, which incorporates product-specific organisms to produce solar fuels and chemicals via the same process. Joule has successfully achieved the production of both ethanol and diesel at lab scale, with the former already reaching productivity rates exceeding 6,000 gallons/acre/year. At full-scale production, via future commercial sites, the company estimates the potential to deliver 25,000 gallons/acre/year of ethanol and 15,000 gallons/acre/year of diesel at highly competitive market pricing.

About Joule Biotechnologies

Joule Biotechnologies, Inc. is tackling the global energy crisis with a game-changing, renewable alternative to transportation fuels. Its patent-pending Helioculture™ technology surpasses the limitations of biomass-derived fuel approaches by using sunlight to convert CO2 directly into Joule™ liquid energy. This direct-to-fuel conversion requires no fresh water and minimal non-agricultural land, 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


Joule Biotechnologies, Inc.
Felicia Spagnoli, 617-354-6100 x34