Algenol Biofuels Inc. celebrated the opening of its new state-of-the-art biofuels and green chemistry lab and R&D facility today in Fort Myers, Fla.
The 40,000 square-foot facility houses an advanced algae biology, engineering, carbon dioxide (CO2) and green chemistry laboratory, as part of the larger Lee Integrated Biorefinery. The facility was made possible with a $10 million incentive grant from the Lee County Board of Commissioners. Speakers at the ribbon cutting event included U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), Lee County Commission Chairwoman Tammy Hall, Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah and Algenol Founder and Chief Executive Officer Paul Woods.
"Today is a remarkable milestone in our quest to bring algae-based biofuels and bio-based chemicals to commercialization. With the opening of our new biofuels and green chemistry facility, we aim to make Florida a hub for green, clean technology innovation that will create jobs, lessen our dependence on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution," said Woods. "Our efforts would not have been possible without our talented and dedicated staff and without our partnership with Lee County. We are thankful for the extraordinary efforts of Commission Chairwoman Tammy Hall, Commissioner Ray Judah, and the late Commissioner Bob Janes," said Woods.
Congressman Connie Mack (FL-14) said: "I'm so pleased to welcome Algenol Biofuels research facility to Southwest Florida. This company is a terrific example of how private enterprise can lead the way in alternative energy development. By working together, we can diversify our nation's energy needs and strengthen our economy. This is a win for Southwest Florida and our state."
Lee County Commission Chairwoman Tammy Hall said: "Algenol will be the catalyst that will jump start Lee County's green economy. With a coordinated effort, we will make Florida the national leader of next-generation biofuels. Our vision is not small R & D facilities, but large commercial-scale clean energy production operations bringing new jobs to Lee County and putting Floridians back to work."
Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah said: "Lee County and Algenol are exerting bold and visionary leadership in bringing the brightest minds and algae-to-ethanol technology together to ensure long term economic prosperity and a healthy environment."
The facility will house Algenol's advanced biology and engineering laboratories and operations. An adjoining 4-acre outdoor R&D area and 36-acre outdoor commercialization area will hold the company's proprietary photobioreactors—the containers that generate ethanol from algae, saltwater and CO2 using Algenol's patented Direct to Ethanol™ technology. In addition to producing low-cost ethanol, Algenol is beginning to work on related projects, such as using its ethanol and other green chemicals as a replacement for petroleum in plastic and chemical building blocks. Furthermore, Algenol has formed a partnership with a local university, Florida Gulf Coast University, to assist in establishing programs for students interested in pursuing careers in the green chemistry and biofuels industries.