Solar Recycling Pioneer Raises $40 Million for Commercialization

May 12, 2015 Updated: May 12, 2015

A pioneer of CO2-to-fuel production is set to announce it raised $40 million in private equity and venture debt financing, which will go toward promoting its technology, according to a report by GreenBiz

The groundbreaking technology converts sunlight and CO2 waste into transportation fuels.

Joule, a Massachusetts-based company in business since 2007, distinguishes itself from biofuel companies that use corn, wood, or algae to make fuel. Rather, its method is different because it “effectively [reverses] combustion through the use of solar energy,” according to the Joule website

The process uses only sunlight, non-potable water, and other nutrients, to produce products like ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels. It allows the company to make the fuel without sacrificing agricultural land, fresh water, or crops. The production system is also compatible with infrastructures around the world. 

“We’re replicating photosynthesis at industrial scale,” Joule Executive Vice President of Corporate Development Tom Jensen told GreenBiz. “The fuels we are producing meet the standards in the United States and the European union.”

This alternative fuel also has the benefit of being insulated from fluctuating commodity prices, which significantly affects corn-based ethanol providers. Jensen said the company would experience the long-term benefits of low-carbon transportation.

“We produce a carbon-neutral fuel. A carbon-neutral fuel is increasingly valued from a de-carbonization perspective.”

In the last funding rounds, Joule raised $160 million. This new round of $40 million will be used to expand its production facility in Hobbs, New Mexico, with a goal to convert 150,000 tons of waste CO2 into 25,000 gallons of ethanol or 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre annually. The company estimates a cost of $50 a barrel.

Joule was launched out of Flagship VentureLabs and operates out of The Hague, The Netherlands in addition to its U.S. facilities.