– TUESDAY TALK

Tuesday

1. A novel, cost-effective method for producing ethanol from carbon dioxide in hybrid algae

Algenol Biofuels Inc. is an innovative algae to ethanol company located in Florida. It produces ethanol using industrial CO2 emission and water. Hybrid algae are genetically engineered to produce ethanol inside each cell, then ethanol diffuses through cell wall into the cultural medium and evaporates, into photobioreactor. Ethanol and water further concentrated into fuel grade ethanol. The bioreactors utilize salt water, algae, CO2 and marginal land. With the increase of ethanol production scale, they can further lower the cost of ethanol to about $1-1.5 per gallon, which is much lower than petroleum.

What’s smart about it is that most companies produce CO2 as side product whereas Algenol uses CO2 as input to make products. It consumes sea water, which is readily available if bioreactors build along side the ocean. It does not need food feedstocks; It does not use farmland. If government subsidizes CO2 reduction like Triston said in class – the CO2 cap. , Algenol could further benefit from just selling CO2 cap.  But one problem I can think of is the transportation of industrial CO2. Should they build pipes or build bioreactors next to factories, or even make CO2 into solidified form? But in general, I think this company has the potential to be successful.

-chao

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