DIRECT TO ETHANOL® technology is globally competitive with any other biofuel processes. Ethanol produced with our technology at commercial scale will compete with oil at $50 per barrel.
The low-cost, low-carbon-footprint DIRECT TO ETHANOL® process can produce ethanol with operating cost around $1.00 per gallon. This operating cost assumes the purchase of carbon dioxide feedstock for $30 per metric tonne. As the DIRECT TO ETHANOL® process yields nearly 4 units of energy for every unit of energy input, the energy costs for the process are modest.
Capital costs to construct a DIRECT TO ETHANOL® facility will be below $10 per annual gallon of capacity. We are targeting commercial productivity rates above 10,000 gallons of ethanol per acre-year, much more than that for corn (400 gallons per acre-year) and that for sugar cane (800 gallons per acre-year). Algenol’s talented scientific team will continue to optimize commercial strains of enhanced algae to increase productivity but have already achieved ethanol production rates above 9000 gallons per acre per year.
The costs to produce ethanol from corn are driven by grain prices. When volatile corn prices were recently at $7 per bushel, the cost of the corn contained within a gallon of ethanol was approximately $2.50 in addition to significant other production costs.
Ethanol production from sugar cane also depends on the supply of low-cost raw material. With rising demand for sugar as food, the cost of this raw material is increasing. A sugar cane ethanol producer can be competitive if it can purchase sugar cane for $20 per metric tonne and can sell electric power as a co-product. The recent importation of US-based corn ethanol into Brazil is a reflection of much higher world sugar prices.
Production costs of ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks or biodiesel from more conventional algae-based processes similarly are highly dependent on how efficiently these processes use raw materials and what value can be realized for co-products. Both cellulosic and algal biodiesel production capacity require high capital expenditures. Unlike the DIRECT TO ETHANOL® process, algae-based biodiesel processes require energy-intensive harvesting and dewatering of algae and extraction and treatment of the biofuel product.
The following chart summarizes Algenol’s view of the production costs of some selected biofuel technologies.
Production costs can be further reduced by increasing the size of a DIRECT TO ETHANOL® project. Algenol’s technology is modular, photobioreactors and related systems can be replicated over innumerable acres. A DIRECT TO ETHANOL® project benefits greatly from this scalability, which enables competitive ethanol production at energy industry scale anywhere in the world with suitable quantities of carbon dioxide, sunlight and non-arable land. Since our production photobioreactor is relatively small module, producing more ethanol is just a matter of adding more modules.
CUT CO2TM as part of a DIRECT TO ETHANOL® project, can consume hundreds of thousands of tonnes of industrial CO2 a year. Algenol offers a beneficial and profitable alternative use for CO2 instead of simply emitting the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
DIRECT TO ETHANOL® technology does not use food crop (e.g., corn or sugar cane) as a feedstock, farmland or other arable land, nor is fresh water required for production. Other fuel production processes use large amounts of fresh water resources:
Algenol’s DIRECT TO ETHANOL® production process can be designed to provide fresh water.