It might be the bane of pools, lakes and rivers across the world, but for one Florida-based company, algae could be the next big thing when it comes to clean energy.
Scientist and engineers at Algenol believe that their patented technology will enable the production of ethanol, gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for just $1.30 per gallon, at annual production levels of 8,000 total gallons of liquid fuel per acre.
"In college, somebody actually said to me, 'ethanol's going to be the fuel of the future, and if we can make it well and cheaply it will be a really good substitute for gasoline one day,'" Paul Woods, founder and CEO of Algenol, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.
"About three weeks later… I had an epiphany, [an] idea of how to do it," Woods said. "Right now we take sugars from grapes and all kinds of things and convert it into ethanol. But the fastest sugar producer is actually algae."
The process developed by Algenol, based in Fort Myers, uses "enhanced blue-green algae" and photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide and seawater into sugar, which is then converted into ethanol and biomass.
"What makes these algae very special is they're extraordinarily fast at using photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide, salt water and sunshine into sugars," Woods said. "It does that about 50 times faster than the terrestrial normal plants we use to make ethanol."