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10 Biofuel Startups you should Know

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.

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 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

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 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.


Filed under: Clean Technology, Ideas, Startups, Technology, Web 2.0, , , ,

The Summit Series: 5 Best Startups of 2009

The summit series is a community of the world’s most influential innovators.The summit is inspired by events like the Clinton Global Initiative, TED, and Davos.The latest conference in Aspen recorded 115 top young entrepreneurs and inspiring philanthropists under the age of 35. These five startups were most impressive at the conference has a web-based downloadable library containing a variety of advice and entertainment content to meet the needs of consumers. These audio and video podcasts can be uploaded to iPhones, laptops, desktops or most popularly to iPods from Apple Inc.. “We’re all living a mobile lifestyle… shorter content, that you can take with you, are the trends,” says Murray Hidary, CEO of iAmplify. With over 30 categories of quality content published by high-profile experts such as Martha Stewart of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO) and Suze Orman, it is easy so see why this startup has been featured by CNN, New York Times, LA times, NBC, and Time Magazine to name a few.

iContact is an industry leading email marketing service with 47,000 customers and 400,000 users. Delivering a cost-effective and organized online interface that provides custom e-mail marketing services for both small businesses and large corporations. With a choice of over 300 templates, iContact caters to experts and amateurs alike, allowing them to add features to meet their needs such as subscription management, autoresponders, open and clickthrough tracking, spamcheck, bounce-back handling, integrated surveying, and other advanced analytics. While giving customers the tools to implement efficient e-mail marketing, iContact also has a database of free educational content, training sessions, and live chat support.
If you hate wasting your valuable time listening to voicemail, this latest product may just be the answer. Phonetag will send you a text and e-mail with the exact message received from your home or cell phone within 3 minutes. The phone number can be easily added to your contact list and you now have a searchable and dated note. Say goodbye to your assistant, because this service has it all! Phonetag also compiles an unlimited inbox for you, available through your personal webpage. You can e-mail or text directly from the transcribed message, as well as play the audio version attached to the e-mail.
This upcoming fashion website caters to all your shopping needs with a personalized portfolio dedicating every angle of their platform to the user. While enhancing the consumer experience, Stylecaster also caters to businesses through targeted branding and product integration. While displaying a 360 degree view of your daily outfits from your wardrobes, they also deliver style ideas that coordinate with the local weather and events you plan on attending. With editorial advice from the most prominent experts, trendsetters, and stylists in the industry, Stylecaster offers a collection of videos, interviews, and blogs to further expand your fashion education.

XG Technology, Inc
XG Technology, Inc has been developing an innovative product that may potentially revolutionize communication systems through Xmax, their proprietary 4G technology. It is a FCC approved VoIP (Voice-over-internet protocol) that utilizes low frequency radio waves, deploying from South Florida. The consumer will benefit from a low-power, low-cost, long-range telecommunications XG Flash Signal.
The handset device, called the xMax TX-60, is equipped with the essentials of a cell phone with the addition of the patented xMax VoIP ability.

Filed under: Clean Technology, Ideas, Mobile, Startups, Technology, Web 2.0, , , , ,

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