EPA approves Joule’s advanced biofuel pathway

By Erin Voegele | April 15, 2016

The U.S. EPA recently approved a renewable fuel pathway filed by Joule Unlimited Technologies Inc., allowing the company to generate D5 advanced biofuels renewable identification numbers (RINs) for its algae-based ethanol under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

The approval letter notes Joule’s process produces advanced ethanol using photosynthetic cyanobacteria and a proprietary production process called Helioculture Sunflow-E ethanol process. During the process, cyanobacteria act as a catalyst to produce and secrete ethanol, which is then collected and purified. The EPA’s letter also notes the algal biomass is processed to produce an algal oil product.

The EPA’s analysis determined that Joule’s ethanol achieves an 85.1 percent lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction when compared to baseline gasoline. Total emissions associated with Joule’s ethanol, including upstream emissions, fuel production, fuel distribution and use and coproduct credit, equaled 14.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per million Btu. The gasoline baseline is 98.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per million Btu.

Joule issued a statement in response to the EPA’s action, noting the pathway approval will aid in accelerating the commercialization its fuel. "Following strong momentum in 2015, we're pleased to start this year off in such a productive manner, with some major highlights on the technical and regulatory front," said Brian Baynes, Joule CEO. "The qualification from the EPA allows Joule to compete with other forms of ethanol and provides our customers and partners with the full benefit of renewable fuels from a cost, production and environmental standpoint."

A copy of the pathway approval document can be downloaded from the EPA’s website.