In the United States (US), Viridos, Inc., a leading algae biofuel company has announced that it has raised a US$25 million Series A equity investment round. Led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and joined by Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and United Airlines Ventures (UAV), the funding will be used for R&D to further increase algae oil productivity to reach commercially deployable levels.
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Globally, diesel and jet fuel account for over a third of the liquid fossil fuel used. The heavy transportation sector comprising aviation, shipping, and long-distance trucking relies on these fuels with demand expected to continue to grow for decades, creating major decarbonization challenges.
Bill Gates founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), a first-of-its-kind venture capital model designed to accelerate critical climate technologies.
Decarbonizing the heavy transportation industry is critical for addressing climate change and therefore a top priority for BEV. Oliver and his team at Viridos have a promising technology for converting algae into sustainable liquid fuels. The science behind their platform positions them to crack the code on the critical barriers to scale, making Viridos an important addition to BEV’s portfolio, said Carmichael Roberts at Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
Viridos aims to solve this challenge by leading the bioengineering of microalgae and has already achieved seven times the oil productivity compared to wild algae.
This sets the stage for the scalable and sustainable production of algae oil as the feedstock of choice for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel (RD). SAF and RD made from Viridos algae oil are expected to have a 70 percent reduced carbon footprint.
By establishing production sites to grow Viridos-engineered microalgae in salt water, we are creating the foundation for a biofuel future that moves away from fossil fuels without competing for precious resources such as fresh water and arable land. We are excited to have support from BEV, the leading energy transition venture capital fund, Chevron, and United Airlines. Together we can build the ecosystem needed to bring algae biofuels to the market. We look forward to bringing our oil-producing algae to commercial readiness and then growing them to produce scalable quantities of SAF and RD, said Dr Oliver Fetzer, CEO of Viridos.
Viridos’ bioengineering technology consists of genetically engineered algae, combined with optimized production processes and systems to enable large-scale production.
According to the company, its unique approach combines several important and unique attributes contributing to scalability and sustainability, including:
- Surface area oil productivities of Viridos algae far exceed any traditional oil crop, achieving high algae oil output in comparatively small areas;
- 包含seaw Viridos藻类生长在船只ater. This allows contained deployment in hot and dry locations without taxing scarce freshwater and arable land resources while eliminating runoff;
- Viridos algae have extremely high oil contents facilitating downstream processing to algae oil;
- Viridos algae oil is a quality plant oil allowing existing bio-refineries to process the oil with high yields.
For United Airlines, the Viridos investment by its venture capital arm United Airlines Venture is the first investment by UAV Sustainable Flight Fund since its launch.
UAV’s US$5 million investment will support the production of SAF made from algae, an abundant and scalable resource that can be grown and harvested without impacting the food supply chain.
SAF is proven, scalable, and the best tool we have to reduce our carbon emissions from flying, but we face a significant shortage of available feedstock. As the global aviation leader in SAF production investment, United remains committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions, without relying on traditional carbon offsets by 2050. Viridos’ algae-based biofuel technology has the potential to help solve our supply problem without the need for farmland or other agricultural resources and marks our inaugural investment in our new cross-industry Sustainable Flight Fund, said Mike Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures.