Algenol hires Schlicht, Denman; plans to build Mexico facility

By Erin Voegele | September 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted Sept. 22, 2008 at 10:36 a.m. CST

Florida-based Algenol Biofuels Inc. announced Sept. 15 the appointment of two new employees. Greg Schlicht has been named senior vice president of business development and general counsel, while Dax Denman will serve as senior program manger.

Schlicht, who will work with Algenol's partners to commercialize the Algenol process and will oversee select corporate legal matters for the company, previously served as VeraSun Energy Corp.'s senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Denman will oversee work being competed at Algenol's labs and facilities. He was formerly employed by Amgen Inc., a human therapeutics company in the biotechnology industry.

Founded in 2006, Algenol has developed a technology using algae to produce ethanol. The technology, trademarked as Direct to Ethanol, produces industrial-scale low cost ethanol using algae, sunlight, carbon dioxide and seawater. According to Algenol's co-founder and chief executive officer, Paul Woods, each algae cell used in the process is like a tiny ethanol factory. Sugar is produced through photosynthesis and immediately converted into ethanol. The algae grow in 500 gallon sealed containers. Ethanol produced by the algae evaporates into the head space of the container and is then collected and purified.

The technology produces approximately 6,000 gallons per acre annually and consumes large amounts of carbon dioxide. Woods estimates that 1.5 million tons of carbon is sequestered by each 100 million gallons of ethanol produced.

Algenol's first commercial-scale facility will be located on 102,000 acres in Mexico and produce 1 billion gallons annually. The three-and-a-half year construction project is scheduled to begin in late 2008 or early 2009. The facility will be modular, with each tank beginning ethanol production approximately 55 days after completion. The company expects commercial sales of ethanol from the facility to begin in 2009. In addition, Algenol is considering locations for six U.S. facilities.