Monday, September 20, 2010

Turning Solar Energy Into Liquid Fuel...

Thanks to Cambridge based Joule Unlimited, solar energy's potential doesn't stop at producing electricity...
The company announced that it can produce Ethanol, Diesel or other Hydocarbons using ONLY sunlight and CO2...! They officially were granted the patent for a genetically modified version of cyanobacteria that converts carbon dioxide, dirty water and sunlight into a liquid hydrocarbon [which is an equivalent to regular diesel].
According to the patent, the engineered cyanobacteria contains “a recombinant acyl ACP reductase (AAR) enzyme and a recombinant alkanal decarboxylative monooxygenase (ADM) enzyme.”   What this concoction of cyanobacteria and enzymes does is allow for hydrocarbon production in a single step, converting captured sunlight into ‘liquid energy’, that can be either ethanol or diesel. While the project is still in its pilot testing phase, it’s already producing 10,000 gallons of ethanol a year, or 40 percent of its goal, on its pilot lines in Leander, Texas. It is expected that production will begin by the end of the year with commercial production commencing in 2012.  If it is successful, not only could it mean cheap biofuel (selling at $30 a barrel, compared to $70 for oil), but it could mean a fully sustainable form of fuel that doesn’t need food crops to create it. Fuel could literally be created out of thin air!


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