Enthusiastic entrepreneur places big bet on algae
Paul Woods has done the math, and the magic number is $1.27.
The entrepreneur behind Algenol has calculated it’ll cost that much to produce a gallon of algae fuel using his technology. It’s a cost that will allow Algenol to compete in a marketplace dominated by petroleum.
And it’s the number that’ll make recycling industrial carbon dioxide turn a profit.
“I think you can do really simple math. This planet has one chance at diverting climate change, and it’s Algenol,” Woods said here at his demonstration facility among the sandy beaches and palm trees of Florida’s Southwest coast.
Woods, a Canadian with long blond hair who’s more comfortable in a polo shirt than a suit and tie, will soon have a chance to test his technology. Algenol plans to launch its first commercial-scale projects this year with major carbon emitters in the state.
Breaking into commercial production of advanced biofuels has eluded many companies. Policy remains uncertain despite a federal mandate that the country move beyond corn ethanol, while financing commercial-scale projects is a difficult barrier.
In the algae industry, most companies have turned to smaller markets, such as nutrition supplements and cosmetics, finding them more profitable in the short term than the fuel market, where payoffs are unclear and competition from the oil industry is fierce.
If it’s successful, Algenol will be the first algae company to commercially produce all four major fuel products — ethanol, gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. And it’ll help establish the algae industry as a potential mitigation strategy for climate change and cement Florida’s growing significance as an algae-producing state.