Today in Cleantech

It’s a good week for corporate-startup partnerships on the biofuels front. This morning, Khosla-backed “biocrude” startup KiOR announced an off-take agreement with Hunt Refining Co., part of the Ray L. Hunt family’s Texas oil empire. It’s a deal that could help the startup get $75 million in state grants to build its first plant, as well as a massive, $1 billion federal loan guarantee it’s seeking. Earlier today, chemicals giant Dow said it would turn to algae startup Solazyme to supply it with bio-derived insulation liquids to keep transformers cool, one of the niche “biochemical” markets increasingly being targeted by biofuel startups. And yesterday, another algae biofuel startup, Sapphire Energy, landed an equity investment and partnership with chemicals giant Monsanto aimed at combining the two companies’ genetic engineering expertise to boost crop yields, including algae crops. Take it as three more signs that the road to biofuel startup success lies firmly with partners with deep pockets and deep channels to market — and that revenues don’t need to come strictly from selling biofuel.