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Summary:

Patrick Gruber, the new CEO of Gevo, can talk at length about how biofuel butanol could one day replace gasoline and jet fuel. But when it comes to disclosing the size of the series B round the biofuel startup announced this morning from new investor Virgin […]

Patrick Gruber, the new CEO of Gevo, can talk at length about how biofuel butanol could one day replace gasoline and jet fuel. But when it comes to disclosing the size of the series B round the biofuel startup announced this morning from new investor Virgin Fuels and return-backer Khosla Ventures, mum’s the word. Update: VentureWire puts the investment at $10 million.

The company has been pretty quiet about its moves over the past few months until a regulatory filing disclosed Khosla Ventures had backed the company. Though, here’s what we do know. Developed at Caltech and now based in Pasadena, California, Gevo’s technology converts biomass into next-gen biofuels like butanol. And Gruber tells us that the new funds will be used to continue to develop the technology, which likely won’t be ready for market for a few years down the road.

Butanol, when used as a fuel, is more similar to gasoline than ethanol. Like ethanol, butanol is an alcohol compound, but with four carbon atoms instead of two. The different chemical structure could make it possible for butanol to be transported using existing fuel supply infrastructure.

Gevo’s competition at the moment comes from BP and DuPont, which teamed up last year to produce butanol. Gruber isn’t concerned, apparently:

“I don’t know exactly what they’re doing. There’s enough latitude here that multiple companies can do their own thing and be successful. But we’re out to play to win in the long run.”

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  1. What is the energy cost to synthesize butanol from biomass? It’s bound to be costlier than ethanol, which is already too costly. It’s all fine and good to make a fuel that’s more convenient to use, but if a good deal of the feedstock gets used up in its production, the overall cost will be problematic, as will the availability of biomass itself.

    More than twice as much fuel (energetically) can be obtained from biomass in the form of methane compared with can be obtained as ethanol. (Yes, this includes cellulosic ethanol.) Butanol is going to be much worse.

    At best, our domestic biomass can only provide about 10% of our energy needs anyway, so we shouldn’t be wasting what we do have synthesizing a complex fuel that will be even more expensive than ethanol!

  2. Earth2Tech » Blog Archive Startup: “Renewable Petroleum” LS9 Opens Up « Monday, July 30, 2007

    [...] said it had raised $5 million in Series A funding from Flagship Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Khosla Ventures also backed Pasadena, California-based startup Gevo, which converts biomass into next-gen biofuels like butanol. Digg Stumble Reddit del.icio.us [...]

  3. Earth2Tech » Blog Archive Biofuel Could Boost Food Prices Up to 80% « Thursday, August 9, 2007

    [...] no small number of startups raising money to attempt to increase the efficiency of biofuels. Gevo and LS9 are just two that have recently raised money. Digg Stumble Reddit del.icio.us Email [...]

  4. Earth2Tech » Blog Archive MIT’s Tech Review Honors Young Energy Stars « Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    [...] Dr. David Berry, 29, principal with Flagship Ventures, TR35’s “Innovator of the Year,” is the brains behind startup LS9, the Khosla Ventures’-backed renewable-petroleum company that just raised funding. [...]

  5. Will Synthetic Biology Patents Endanger the Biofuel Industry? « Earth2Tech Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    [...] could turn the oil industry on its head. A lot of venture money has gone into companies like LS9, Gevo, Mascoma, Amyris and ProtoLife, all of whom are trying to turn simple bacteria like E. coli into [...]

  6. Synthetic Biofuel Startup Gevo Raises $17M « Earth2Tech Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    [...] When Gevo raised its Series B last July, CEO Partick Gruber said those funds would be used to continue to develop the technology. We’re waiting to hear back from Gevo’s execs on show these latest funds will be used. [...]

  7. On Your’s Gadget » Blog Archive » Synthetic Biofuel Startup Gevo Raises $17M Thursday, May 15, 2008

    [...] When Gevo raised its Series B last July, CEO Partick Gruber said those funds would be used to continue developing the technology. We’re waiting to hear back from Gevo’s execs on how these latest funds will be used. [...]

  8. Big Business Jet » Khosla on Green Jet Fuel: Insights from the Future in Review Conference Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    [...] A second way is to find substitutes like Butenol. This is a solution that he and Richard Branson have invested in with a startup named Gevo. [...]

  9. Cobalt Adds $25M for Biobutanol Commercialization « Earth2Tech Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    [...] in industrial chemicals. Consequently, Cobalt isn’t the only one going after biobutanol. Khosla- and Virgin-backed Gevo has reportedly raised $10 million for its work with butanol. Meanwhile, chemical giant DuPont [...]

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