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Biofuel startup LS9 has been sold for $40 million to biodiesel maker Renewable Energy Group, reports MIT Tech Review. But before you congratulate them, note that LS9 raised $81 million over nine years, and still hadn’t reached a point where it was selling its green diesel to refiners. Last year the company brought in a new CEO, following restructuring and layoffs. Such are the long roads and harsh conditions facing biofuel startups. LS9 was backed by Khosla Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, and Chevron Technology Ventures.

  1. All the biotechnology companies trying to make biofuels and (now) biochemicals have to be realistic when cost modeling. Even with the chemical high value driver, can a company have a reasonable ROI%? Believe me, I want to see it happen because I’m one of those people that is still chasing this dream… I’ve worked on in several spots across the value chain (Business Development for technology developers, technology scouting for well funded VC and Business Development for 2 major Chemical/Petrochemical companies) for the pass 7-10 years. It boils down to this, can you make money in the near term if you spend $500 million to build a plant to make a molecule (for any application)?

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    1. So glad Solazyme has not had to pay anything close to 500 million for a plant. Metal working fluids, lubricants and product for personal care items now being shipped out of Clinton IA. Brazilian plant coming om line for 160, 000 million. ADM accepting shares of SZYM stock for rent.

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    2. Yields determine the faith of a project. You can almost predict based on Process Economics if a project is going to make it. Products that have to compete with existing commodities almost always difficult to make it in the market. High in yields in each process steps are the key to total manufacturing cost of the product.

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