Waste-to-Fuel Startup Enerkem Raises $60M From Valero, Investors

Waste to fuel startup Enerkem already had trash king Waste Management on its side — now Enerkem has scored backing from oil refiner giant Valero. Enerkem announced it has raised $60 million from Valero, along with existing investors like Waste Management and Braemar Energy Ventures.

Feds Promise $571 Million in Biofuel Loan Guarantees

Biofuel production nationwide has been woefully behind schedule as would-be producers struggle to just get their first commercial plants rolling. The U.S. government wants to help and on Thursday announced loan guarantee commitments totaling $571 million for Coskata, Enerkem, and a JV from Valero.

Oil to the Rescue: Valero Backs Mascoma

For next-generation biofuels to make any type of dent in the fossil fuel industry, oil companies will have to get on board, and here comes one to the rescue for the struggling cellulosic ethanol sector. Oil giant Valero is backing cellulosic ethanol startup Mascoma.

Trash to Fuel: Enerkem Lands $51.5M Led by Waste Management

Cellulosic ethanol startup Enerkem needs trash and money. Massive trash company Waste Management has lots of both. The two said Wednesday that they’ve gotten together, with Waste Management making a strategic investment in the Montreal-based company as part of a 53.8 million Canadian dollars ($51.5 million) investment with fellow new investor Cycle Capital and previous investors Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and BDR Capital. That’s on top of about 30 million Canadian dollars (about $24.48 million) in previous venture backing, according to the Cleantech Group.

Enerkem told us in January that it was looking for more money to build a second plant to turn trash into ethanol. Looks like they didn’t have to search very long — not bad, considering the gloomy climate for raising capital for big projects. The company’s core technology is centered on gasifying various forms of waste — everything from old telephone poles to mixed municipal garbage — and then turning the syngas into various fuels.
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The Best & Worst Biofuel Startups

Amid the rubble of the first generation of biofuel projects focused on ethanol derived from corn, a new landscape of biofuel tech has taken shape. As Lux Research puts it in a report released today, the companies range “from backyard brewers to billion-dollar industrial giants,” working in five key technology categories: fermentation, gasification, synthetic biology, chemical processes, and the political darling, algae. No single category offers a silver bullet for renewable fuels. Rather, Lux finds that each of the five categories “hosts promising producers and future failures.”

Given the amount of money pouring into these technologies from both public and private sources, how can we distinguish between the likely winners and losers? Based on factors like revenue per employee, patents, performance metrics, production capacity and other data, Lux has identified gaps between long-shot ventures that would make risky investments and weak partners, and companies with disruptive core technologies and other key characteristics that make them promising targets for mergers, acquisitions or licensing deals.
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WWD Reader Profile: Jennifer Woofter, Sustainability Consultant

jenniferWho are you and what do you do?

My name is Jennifer Woofter and I run Strategic Sustainability Consulting (SSC). We’re a boutique consulting company that works with small- and medium-size organizations that want to “go green.” I spend about one-third of my time on billable sustainability consulting work (green audits, carbon footprinting, coaching and training) and about two-thirds of my time running the business — made up of three in-house staff, between four and six interns, and a freelance network of more than 450 sustainability experts.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I’m a night owl, and since I usually go to sleep in the wee hours, I’m rarely awake before 9 a.m. Since I work from home, that’s not a problem — I just walk downstairs to my office (stopping in the kitchen for a cup of coffee) and am ready to work by 9:05. Read More about WWD Reader Profile: Jennifer Woofter, Sustainability Consultant

Algae Fuel Startup Solix Ups Funds to Start Production, Eyes Asia

solix-logoAlgenol Biofuels, with its just-announced plans to build an algae fuel demo plant in partnership with Dow Chemical (s DOW), isn’t the only startup taking the demise of a well-funded algae fuel company — GreenFuel Technologies — in stride.

Today 3-year-old Solix Biofuels, which has some similarities with GreenFuel (it uses closed photobioreactors to grow algae, then turns it into biofuels and feedstocks for the chemical industry), shows it, too, is bucking up in the downturn — adding another $1.3 million to its Series A financing round, and announcing plans to start a commercial-scale demonstration of its technology within two months (“late summer”) in southwestern Colorado.

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