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Algenol, headquartered in Bonita Springs, Florida
Bonita Springs, Florida
Bonita Springs is a city in Lee County, Florida, United States. The population was 43,914 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Cape Coral–Fort Myers Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is located on the southwest coast of the state....

, is a company developing a process to produce ethanol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...

 directly from algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

. Rather than grow algae and then harvest them, the ethanol is removed without killing the algae. Their process appears somewhat unique in this regard as nearly all other fuel comes from either long dead organic matter in the case of fossil fuels or recently dead organic matter in the case of normal biofuel
Biofuel is a type of fuel whose energy is derived from biological carbon fixation. Biofuels include fuels derived from biomass conversion, as well as solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases...



Algenol's process uses seawater, carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce ethanol and freshwater. The source of the carbon dioxide can be "captured industrial or captured atmospheric".

Comparison with other alternative biofuels

Algenol claim the process can produce 6,000 US gallons per acre per year (5,600 m3/km2·a) as compared with around 370 US gallons per acre per year (350 m3/km2·a) produced by growing corn and fermenting it and 890 US gallons per acre per year (830 m3/km2·a) for sugar cane. The algae is grown in salt water and so can be grown in desert areas using sea water rather than needing existing agricultural land and water sources. Their process also uses carbon dioxide generally obtained as a waste product from power stations.


Algenol's newest facility is located in Southwest Florida
Southwest Florida
Southwest Florida is a region of Florida , United States located along its gulf coast, south of the Tampa Bay area, west of Lake Okeechobee and mostly north of the Everglades...

, just north of Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida Gulf Coast University, also known as FGCU, is a coeducational public university located just south of the Southwest Florida International Airport in the South Fort Myers region of unincorporated Lee County, Florida, United States. The university belongs to the 11-campus State University...

 and opened in October 2010. The new research and development facility is working to create a commercially viable fuel from algae.. The site features a research labs including engineering facilities, advanced molecular biology, CO2 management, separations, and green chemistry advanced labs and an outdoor process development production unit on 40 acres. . It is to cover 43,000sqft and to include 40 acres (161,874.4 m²) of photobioreactors In addition, Algenol and FGCU are working together on curriculum, internships and teaching opportunities..

The company operates the world's largest blue green algae library and the algae they are using was chosen from a collection of nearly 10,000 strains.


BioFields have committed to build an algae farm in the Sonoran Desert
Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert is a North American desert which straddles part of the United States-Mexico border and covers large parts of the U.S. states of Arizona and California and the northwest Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur. It is one of the largest and hottest...

 in northwest Mexico and intend to sell the ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel is ethanol , the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a biofuel additive for gasoline. World ethanol production for transport fuel tripled between 2000 and 2007 from 17 billion to more than 52 billion litres...

 at or below market price of ethanol. Production was planned from Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 in 2009, now delayed to 2012 due to permitting delays and the company says it plans to produce 1 billion USgals (3,785,412 m³) by the end of 2014 which would make it the worlds largest ethanol producer.

They have claimed production costs as low as 85¢ per US gallon (22¢/l).


On June 9 they announced a partnership with Dow Chemical to build a demonstration project, Integrated Biorefinery Direct to Ethanol project in Lee County Florida, site with 3,100 bioreactor
A bioreactor may refer to any manufactured or engineered device or system that supports a biologically active environment. In one case, a bioreactor is a vessel in which a chemical process is carried out which involves organisms or biochemically active substances derived from such organisms. This...

s. The bioreactors shown in 09 were long closed and sealed flexible plastic looking rather like a long hot dog balloon. Dow will provide the plastic balloon material. The Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States...

 and Membrane Technology will also work on the process. Algenol also announced partnerships with Valero Energy Services and Linde Gas AG

Grants Awarded

In December 2009, Algenol received a $25m United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

grant to help build the Integrated Biorefinery Direct to Ethanol project in Lee County Florida. Algenol also received a $10m grant from Lee County to employee people in Lee County and also build the Integrated Biorefinery Direct to Ethanol project in Lee County Florida.

External links

  • Algenol company website
  • Marketwatch article with video of the Algenol process from March 2010