Algenol Biofuels, Bonita Springs Florida has announced successful operation of its unique “direct to ethanol” ™ photobioreactor system for making ethanol at a yield of 9000 gal/acre which compares with reported national average of 440 gal/acre for traditional corn crops. Algenol also indicates ethanol made by its system will cost about $1/gal from a full scale system now being constructed.(www.algenolbiofuels.com)
The significance of Algenol’s break through is illustrated by a number of its advantages. The technology is based on secretion of ethanol from algae in salt water plus CO2 and solar energy. 160 gal ethanol is produced per ton of CO2. The system produces 2 gallons of fresh water as a byproduct per gallon of ethanol. Algenol fuel
avoids problems with aromatics, sulfur and all the difficulties associated with fracking for petroleum fuels. A recent projection by Algenol indicates potential for 20 billion gal/yr from 2 million acres of marginal or desert land.
Termed “Direct to Ethanol” ™, the Algenol system does not require land otherwise suitable for crops and does not require fresh water, fossil fuel based fertilizer or harvesting.
Algenol has reached its current success with major funding of $93.5 million from an integrated India firm, Reliance Industries Ltd.(petrochemicals, telecom, manufacturing) Algenol’s association with Reliance is a testimonial to success obtaining off-shore financing which has been growing in importance for new technology U.S. companies. The Algenol success with ethanol is also an example of the overall environmental and economic advantages of microorganisms, such as algae and cyanobacteria for production of fuel by secretion.
The key next step in Algenol’s commercialization of its technology is the production of diesel and jet fuels derived from waste algae. This follow on development is now under way with production start expected in 2 years