Algenol Algae to offer ethanol to consumers

Source: By CASEY LOGAN, News-Press • Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lee County-based Algenol Biofuels has reached a deal to market and distribute ethanol commercially from its campus off Alico Road and announced plans to build a larger facility in Central Florida to expand production and distribution.

The agreement, between Algenol Biotech LLC and Boca Raton-based Protec Fuel Management LLC, marks the first time ethanol made from algae will be offered to the public.

The companies expect to offer 18 million gallons per year from Algenol’s commercial plant, which is planned for development at a yet-to-be-announced location in Central Florida in 2016 and 2017.

“There’s a lot of room for expansion in Florida,” said Paul Woods, Algenol’s founder and CEO, adding that the state’s ethanol market is 900 million gallons per year.

Algenol developed a patented technology using algae to produce the four most widely used fuels: ethanol, gasoline, jet and diesel fuel, all for about $1.30 a gallon. The company captures, recycles and utilizes CO2 that is used as a feedstock for the algae, an approach specifically identified as a qualifying technology for reducing carbon emissions in the recently established Clean Power Plan.

As for the future of the commercial module at Algenol’s Lee County headquarters: “We’re going to keep advancing and optimizing the system,” he said. “What you see in Lee County will keep changing over time. It likely will be expanded.”

Two Algenol-branded gas stations, in Tampa and Orlando, are expected to open next year, Woods said. Those stations are a joint venture with Protec Fuel. The locations were chosen, he said, to maximize exposure.

Protec will distribute and market the fuel for E15 and E85 applications (blend of ethanol in gas) for retail stations and commercial fleets.

“This alliance is a logical step for Algenol as our commercial fuels are coming on line,” Woods said. “We are excited about partnering with a successful, innovative renewable fuels distributor, who is knowledgeable in the regional and Florida ethanol market and has the expertise and relationships to grow the partnership nationally.”

The partnership will enable Algenol to leverage Protec’s established network of retail clients for the distribution of its products, while enhancing Protec’s ability to bring to market unique renewable fuels. While the partnership will first focus on Florida, the agreement provides for nationwide expansion.

“We know that advanced ethanol is a key element of the future of fuels, and we are excited to partner with Algenol, the leader in the development of algae-based fuels,” said Todd Garner, CEO of Protec Fuel. “The key components and priority of ethanol’s use are sustainability, cleaner air, and to provide the public with lower-cost fuel. To be able to offer a fuel that can accomplish the three key components only bolsters this advanced biofuel’s future.”

The agreement follows a series of commercialization milestones achieved by Algenol, which include its pathway approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December 2014, its organism approval by both the state and the EPA in the same year, and the June 2015 completion of its 2-acre commercial demonstration module funded in part by a $25 million DOE Recovery Act grant.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday that nearly 5,000 blender pumps in 21 states will be added thanks to a $100 million USDA grant program. Nearly 900 of those pumps will be in Florida, the most of any state.

The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership, announced in May, supports adding infrastructure to fueling states that will allow consumers better access to renewable fuels.

“That’s a big chance for consumers to have a lot more choice,” Wood said. “Customers really stand to gain.”

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