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Synthetic Biofuel Startup Gevo Raises $17M

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The future of biofuels belongs to biology, and startups are getting more and more funding to engineer alternative fuels. Synthetic biofuel startup Gevo has raised another $17 million in a Series C funding according to Existing investors Khosla Ventures and Virgin Green Fund participated, as well as new investors Burrill & Co. and Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund.

Using technology developed at Caltech, the three-year-old Gevo is working on engineering enzymes that can convert waste and other cellulosic feedstocks into alternative fuels like butanol, which can be used in the existing petroleum supply chain. 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 gives it characteristics that make it more compatible with existing infrastructure.

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.

Gevo competes with other synthetic biology firms like Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics. Synthetic Genomics Chief Financial Officer Chuck McBride told us back in April that the company was in the process of raising a round of funding in the “$100 million to $200 million range.”

2 Responses to “Synthetic Biofuel Startup Gevo Raises $17M”

  1. Dr. No

    The key challenge will be to actually deliver a commercially viable process and an acceptable product. Butanol sells at above $6.20/gal and is not reasonable given an Ethanol price of $2.50/gal. In addition, current productivity of their bugs is somewhat around 2% in the brooth, whereas ethanol reaches 20%. This explains the high price. Also, butanol stinks badly, think of smelly feet.
    Maybe the play for Gevo will rather be in providing industrial bulk supplies for specialty chemistry processes, that is not biofuel though.