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10 Biofuel Startups you should Know

bioenergy
I am not an expert in Biofuel and this is how the experts define biofuel. Biofuel is a solid, liquid or gaseous fuel obtained from relatively recently lifeless or living biological material and is different from fossil fuels, which are derived from long dead biological material. Various plants and plant-derived materials are used for biofuel manufacturing. Globally, biofuels are most commonly used to power vehicles, heat homes, and for cooking. Biofuel industries are expanding in Europe, Asia and the Americas. I have not come across a lot of biofuel startups, but these startups are doing something significant.The following startups are were worth profiling.

GreenFuel Technologies:
The startup builds algae bioreactor systems, which use recycled CO2 to feed the algae, which is then converted into biofuels; it uses the containers to carefully control the algae’s intake of sunlight and nutrients. GreenFuel is backed by Polaris Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Access Private Equity and has been working on raising a Series C funding.

Solazyme:
The five-year old firm uses synthetic biology and genetic engineering to tweak algal strains for better biofuel yields. Based in South San Francisco, the company grows its algae in fermentation tanks without sunlight, by feeding it sugar. The company is one of the few that have managed to do deals with a major oil company — Chevron — as well as biodiesel maker Imperium Renewables. Backers include Blue Crest Capital Finance and The Roda Group.

Blue Marble Energy:
The Seattle-based company finds algae-infested polluted water systems, cleans up the environment, and turns the algae into biofuel. “If the future of biofuels is algae…you’re never going to get enough volume in bioreactors or ponds…It has to be something with greater volume,” the company told the Guardian .

Inventure Chemical:
Also out of Seattle, this startup is working on an algae-to-jet fuel product, and told the Seattle PI that it has already created algae-based fuel in 5- to 10-gallon tests and plans to set up a test plant to see if it can produce between from three and 15 million gallons of biofuel each year. Inventure Chemical closed its first round of funding mid-2007, and investors are reported to be biodiesel company Imperium Renewables, Cedar Grove Investments, Brighton Jones Wealth Management and undisclosed angel investors.

Solena
Solena uses high temperatures to gasify algae and other organic substances with high-energy outputs. The Washington state-based company is talking with Kansas power firm Sunflower to build a 40-megawatt power plant run on gasified algae, according to the NYT; the algae would be grown in big plastic containers, and fed by a combination of sunlight and the sodium bicarbonate biproduct of the adjacent coal plant.

Live Fuels:
Instead of attempting to convert algae directly into ethanol or biodiesel, this startup is trying to create green crude that could be fed directly through current refinery systems. The Menlo Park, Calif-based startup uses open-pond algae bioreactors and plans to commercialize its technology by 2010. Investors include the Quercus Trust (David Gelbaum’s well-known environmental funding group) and Sandia National Labs.

Solix Biofuels:
Like Live Fuels, Solix is also working on a biocrude, but using a closed-tank bioreactor set-up. Based in Fort Collins, Colo., and founded in April 2006, the firm is backed by Colorado State University’s Engine and Energy Conversion Laboratory. CO2 waste produced during the beer-making process will be used to feed the algae.

Aurora Biofuels:
The company uses genetics ally to isolate modified exclusive algae strains that can efficiently create biodiesel. The technology can create biodiesel fuel with yields that are 125 times higher and have 50 percent lower costs than current production methods.Angel investors include Auttomatic CEO Toni Schneider

Seambiotic:
The five-year-old Israeli startup produces algae for applications, including the budding biofuel industry, and is working with Inventure Chemical. The firm has been working with Israeli Electric Company, utilizing IEC’s smokestack for a source of CO2 and grows algae in eight open algae ponds.

Bionavitas
Bionavitas has developed proprietary patent pending technology for the high volume production growth of micro-algae. This technology has placed Bionavitas at the nexus of revolutionary changes in energy production, global warming prevention, production of new pharmaceutical and nutraceutical compounds, and remediation of our environment.I am yet to find out what they can do with it.

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