AltraBiofuels Spins Out Edeniq for Cellulosic, Led by Gross

OK, so we know where Larry Gross, former CEO of AltraBiofuels and Idealab dot-commer, has landed. AltraBiofuels has actually spun out a new startup called Edeniq, that will focus on cellulosic ethanol processing. Gross will be heading it up, Edeniq’s VP of sales and marketing, Will Gardenswartz, tells us.

Gardenswartz says it had recently become clear that AltraBiofuels was a company heading in two different directions: One, a corn-based ethanol producer focused on buying and processing corn efficiently, and two, an R&D-focused team of scientists working on cellulosic ethanol processing technology. So they decided to spin out the cellulosic and process engineering technology division into a separate company.

Edeniq is based in Visalia, Calif., and was launched with over $30 million in funding from AltraBiofuel’s existing investors, including Kleiner Perkins. AltraBiofuels is a large shareholder in Edeniq, so Edeniq spent part of that funding buying the technology assets away from it.

The startup doesn’t plan to build plants, but will focus on licensing its processing technology to plant owners. Gardenswartz wouldn’t go into details on the company’s technology, saying only that it is neither “syngas” nor “acid hydrolysis” and that its value-add will be “cost” and “operational simplicity.” I guess we’ll have to wait to learn more.

The spinout approach is an interesting way for a company that got into the ethanol game early to morph into a more nimble firm with more advanced technology. AltraBiofuels might have a hard road ahead of it as it tries to squeeze margins out of the corn ethanol industry, but Edeniq’s technology could be a breadwinner for the shareholder.

Larry Gross will be leading the new firm, its team of scientists, and between 10 and 20 additional employees. Edeniq hopes to start licensing its processing technology to plant owners by the fall.

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