A Massachusetts company is moving forward on a test pilot facility for fuel sweating plant production — yes, that’s right these plants sweat diesel. They’ve created gene altered single cell plants that take sunlight and carbon dioxide and turn them directly into biofuel. It is kind of like fuel from algae without the extraction step. The plants’ byproduct is basically vehicle ready, which cuts down significantly on processing costs. Joule Unlimited says their fuel will be a clean, cost effective alternative to petroleum. Now all they have to do is prove their lab tested technology in the real world and we’ll be on the road to running on sweat.
The perspiring plants live in a panel that looks like a green solar panel, and are placed on the ground at an angle to maximize their exposure to the sun. The organisms are laid in a layer underneath a glass panel in a mixture of carbon dioxide infused water which serves as their grub. They sunbathe, eat and then sweat usable diesel — what a life! Apparently unlike algae which needs to be compressed to extract fuel these single cell plants aren’t single use. They can sweat fuel and live to sweat another day for eight weeks straight. The fuel only needs to be separated from the water mixture post sweat lodge to be used.
Joule Unlimited is breaking ground on their test pilot facility 30 miles north of Austin in Leander, Texas. They chose the spot for it’s low risk of freezing temperatures and high amount of sunlight. The move from the lab will help scientists at Joule understand the organisms’ reactions to the unpredictability of the natural world — including fluctuations in sunlight and temperature. Sounds like a promising technology to us. Reusable sweat secreting plants that eat carbon dioxide and sunlight and directly produce biofuels for use as an alternative for oil? Sign us up!