Algae biofuels startup secures $10 million, will build Colorado bioreactor plant

November 11 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2013   Rating: 2

What happened?
Another algae biofuels company has raised money to build a next generation biofuel plant that consumes carbon and creates usuable biofuels.

Colorado-based Solix Biofuels announced that it has raised $10.5 million in its first round of outside funding, and has reached an agreement with investors for an additional commitment of $5 million, to be used to build an algae biofuel facility near Durango, Colorado.

The biofuel plant will be located on a ten-acre site on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in Southwest Colorado. It will be built in two phases, with the first to be completed in 12 to 18 months and consisting of four acres of photo-bioreactors for growing algae, and one acre for a lab facility. Upon completion of the first phase, Solix will build an additional five-acre expansion that will allow the pilot facility to produce at commercial scale.

Why is this important to the future of energy?
Tapping the power of biology to ‘eat’ carbon and produce commercial grade fuels could emerge as a game changing platform for carbon emissions and energy production in the next decade. But first, algae startups like Solix must demonstrate scalable bioreactor plants and work out the kinks associated with algae fuel production (e.g. lighting, nutrients, impurities, growth rates).

What to watch for?
There are a number of leading indicators to monitor: capital investments, performance claims of specific algae species, and further advances in the physical engineering systems related to high volume algae production.

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Steve Jurvetson: Biology and Energy are Converging & Accelerating
Green Oil in UK by 2020?

Why bioenergy?
The idea of bioenergy is simple. Tap power of biology to convert carbon into useful forms of energy. How? By following Mother Nature. Most forms of energy arrived via biology. Coal is ancient ferns and biomass, oil is likely ancient microbes that lived in shallow seas. Both bio systems used the power of sunlight to combine carbon with hydrogen (from water) to form complex hydrocarbon chains. The modern Industrial world is based on capturing energy from blowing up those chemical bonds. Rather than extract ancient bioenergy, the 21st century might be about ‘growing energy’ using those same biological principles.

About the Funding Round:

Solix Biofuels is a spin-off and technology partner of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

The Series A funding was led by I2BF Venture Capital, a London-based venture capital firm focused on biofuels, and Bohemian Investments, a private investment company based in Fort Collins, Colo. Participating in the round are Southern Ute Alternative Energy LLC, an Ignacio, Colo.-based company that manages alternative energy investments for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe; Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. oil refinery operator, based in San Antonio, Texas, and Infield Capital, an investment fund focused on emerging “clean tech” companies, based in Boulder, Colo.

The funding will support Solix’s development of its fourth-generation technology, including a proprietary closed photo-bioreactor system, which produces biocrude from algae cost-effectively.

Comment Thread (2 Responses)

  1. I’m skeptical of this actually being cost-effective. Having a closed bioreactor system is very expensive, but I will be interested to see what happens.

    Posted by: Mielle Sullivan   November 14, 2008
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  2. yes, cost is always the key!!! So we’ll keep our fingers crossed…

    The case against bio energy is always—chemical engineers can do it more reliability and at scale. So time will tell…

    Posted by: Garry Golden   November 14, 2008
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