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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. start-up Joule Biotechnologies hopes to make commercial amounts of motor fuel by feeding engineered organisms high concentrations of carbon dioxide and sunlight, its top executive said. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, which launched on Monday, hopes to make up to 20,000 gallons per acre of fuel a year by late 2011 or early 2012 at prices competitive with $50 oil.
It concentrates sunlight in a solar converter, directing it and carbon dioxide to engineered organisms to make fuel similar to ethanol. "This is the first solar company that is producing liquid fuel as opposed to electrons," said Joule President and CEO Bill Sims. He said Joule is different from companies that make biofuels from plants because its process does not need a lot of land to grow food and energy crops like corn or switchgrass.