It is working on ethanol, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, using a different GE microbe designed to produce each particular product. Microbes grow in clear tubes in bright sunlight on desert land with water and plant nutrients.
Its website doesn’t say where plant nutrients come from or how they are separated from the product or what plant nutrients are used for next. It does say microbes keep multiplying, with some taken out to seed the next batch until they get crowded.
Crowding flips a switch in them so they put all their remaining strength into turning all the remaining carbon and hydrogen, in their growing tube home, into the product they are designed to make.
Our military leaders know they want renewable energy including liquid fuel for transportation — not only for our military but also for our civilian economy. It seems obvious they should pursue 3 or 4 lines at a time toward sustainable liquid fuel for transportation, not just one at a time. It is very expensive to ship petroleum diesel to Puerto Rico and to Hawaii, about $10/gallon.
If Algae Systems could be given credit for bio-char as both carbon store and soil amendment and for the service of separating the plant nutrients from the water in sewage that has had the biological oxygen demand removed but the plant nutrients left in, that might be enough subsidy to get it well started in those 2 places. Sun Fuel, using both electricity and heat otherwise wasted by shipboard nuclear power plants, is a great fit for US Navy diesel needs.
It should be technically feasible already, and economically feasible once the price comes down to match petroleum diesel to put both a Sun Fuel unit and a utility size battery with solar panels on top on each nuclear power campus next to a nuclear power plant, with a “too big to fail” oil firm taking advantage of time-of-day-pricing to acquire “buy low sell high” electricity to the utility operating the nuclear power plant in addition to making synthetic diesel with the Sun Fuel unit. Joule Unlimited might be the long term winner on price alone, especially in our Southwestern desert states. Pursuing a variety of means at the same time, rather than putting all our eggs in one basket, should improve resilience.