Earlier this year, Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. (Joule) received a key go-ahead from the EPA: Joule’s ethanol production process officially qualifies for advanced biofuel RINs. RINs act as the currency of compliance for the renewable fuels standard program; they confirm that incorporation of the approved fuel can be counted towards fulfilling the standard by refiners and importers. More concisely, it allows Joule to compete on even terms with other forms of ethanol.
The particular process that was approved is Joule’s Helioculture Sunflow-E process, which uses photosynthetic cyanobacteria (a form of algae) as a catalyst to produce/secrete ethanol. That ethanol is then collected and purified into a final product.
A key aspect of the approval process is determining a renewable fuel’s lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions as compared to a baseline gasoline lifecycle analysis. In this case, Joule’s product was determined to emit 14.7 kilograms CO2 equivalent per million btu as compared to baseline gasoline’s 98.2 kilograms CO2 equivalent per million btu: an 85% reduction.
This is certainly a key win for the company and for algae. As Brian Baynes, CEO of Joule succinctly put it, “the qualification from the EPA…provides our customers and partners with the full benefit of renewable fuels from a cost, production and environmental standpoint.”
For more information, see the EPA’s approval document.