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Algenol Partners With Valero Services on Algae to Ethanol

Algenol Biofuels Inc., and algae-to-ethanol company, and Valero Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corporation, have entered a joint development agreement to explore combining Algenol’s Direct to Ethanol technology with Valero’s expertise in technology and infrastructure for production and distribution of transportation fuels and chemicals.

If successful, says Algenol, this collaboration has the potential of resulting in joint venture, commercial scale algae-based facilities and off-take arrangements with a global reach. Valero Energy Corporation is North America’s largest independent petroleum refiner and marketer, with 15 refineries and ten ethanol plants.

Algenol Biofuels Inc. is a privately owned company founded in 2006. It recently made a series of announcements including the award of a $25 million grant from the Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to build a facility in concert with its partner on the project, The Dow Chemical Company. (Earlier post.)

Algenol also announced a partnership with The Linde Group to develop CO2 capture and management technologies to increase biofuel production from algae. (Earlier post.) Lee County, Florida is also supporting Algenol with a $10 million incentive grant to open a new 40,000 square foot facility in Lee County, bringing economic diversity and high-tech jobs to the area.

Algenol makes low-cost ethanol directly from CO2 and seawater using hybrid algae in sealed, clear plastic photobioreactors through its Direct to Ethanol technology.

The Direct to Ethanol process links sugar production to photosynthesis with naturally occuring enzymes within individual algae cells. Algenol metabolically enhances the algae to produce ethanol while being resistant to high temperature, high salinity (the process uses salt water), and high ethanol levels, which were previous barriers to ramping to commercial scale volumes.

Algenol has achieved a process that can produce ethanol at a rate of approximately 6,000 gallons per acre-year, compared to corn at 400. This process achieves an energy balance of more than 5 to 1 and a life cycle carbon footprint that is 20% percent of petroleum (an 80% reduction from petroleum), according to Algenol.


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