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Algenol CEO and president, Paul Woods, considers the integrated bio-refinery is a great asset for the firm. (Photo: Algenol Biofuels)

Construction begins for pilot-scale integrated biofuel facility in Florida

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Thursday, October 27, 2011, 22:40 (GMT + 9)

Algenol Biofuels Inc announced that it has broken ground on the construction of its pilot-scale integrated bio-refinery. This production facility will be the first large-scale deployment of Algenol's patented Direct To Ethanol® technology, which produces ethanol directly from carbon dioxide, sunlight and salt water using blue-green algae in patented photobioreactors (or PBRs). 

With support from the US Department of Energy (DOE), Lee County, Florida and Algenol's strategic partners, the 36-ac facility will contain 3,000 of Algenol's patented photobioreactors in a commercial module, Algenol's advanced Vapor Compression Steam Stripper ethanol concentration technology and new membrane-based ethanol dehydration technology. The plant will have a target capacity of approximately 100,000 gal of fuel-grade ethanol per year. 

In addition, Algenol's joint development programme with The Dow Chemical Company has come to an end, and the focus of the relationship will shift to purchasing specialty plastics and films developed during the programme for use in Algenol's patented photobioreactors for the pilot-scale bio-refinery.  The efforts of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Membrane Technology & Research will continue.

"We are very excited to move forward on our commercialization path by deploying the Direct To Ethanol® technology on a larger scale.  Our next stage is to demonstrate on a pilot-scale commercial module what we have already achieved both in the laboratory and in smaller scale PBRs at our advanced Process Development Unit," stated Paul Woods, Algenol's CEO and president.

Facilities. (Photo: Algenol biofuels)

"The integrated bio-refinery located next to our existing Lee County, Florida research and development complex will allow Algenol to advance its proprietary ethanol production technology rapidly. This complex will allow Algenol to go all the way from single cell optimizations in the lab to fuel-grade ethanol at one site," continued Woods.

The Pilot-Scale Integrated Bio-refinery will be built on 36 ac adjacent to the company's existing advanced biofuels research and development complex in Lee County, Florida. Algenol's research and development complex, built with assistance from Lee County, contains 40,000 sqft of world-class molecular biology, culture collection, physiology, aquaculture and engineering laboratories. 

In addition to the 36-ac Integrated Bio-refinery (IBR), the complex contains Algenol's Process Development Unit, which consists of a 9,500 sqft aquaculture laboratory, two large inoculation greenhouses and 3-ac of outdoor research area. 

Upon completion of the IBR, Algenol will have the most advanced integrated biofuels research and development complex in the world. To support its commercialization efforts, the company will increase its US workforce to over 100 employees by the end of 2011 and add about 30 jobs in 2012.

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