LanzaTech raises $15M, ZeaChem $5.1M in Series C sweeteners – lead 15 biobased companies in the 2012 Cleantech 100

October 3, 2012 |

LanzaTech and ZeaChem, two of last year’s new entrants in the top 10 among the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy, raise fresh capital as they head for commercialization.

Plus, both are among 15 biobased companies that made this year’s Cleantech 100 list, as selected by the Cleantech Group. We look at the honorees.

In Illinois, LanzaTech, a pioneer in waste-to-fuels and chemicals technology, announced that it has closed on $15 million in debt financing from Western Technology Investment (WTI), a private investment firm based in Silicon Valley. Earlier this year, LanzaTech closed a $55.8M Series C funding round led by Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, bringing the total capital raised to date to more than $100 million.

“LanzaTech’s team have developed an innovative approach to carbon capture and reuse that is already operating at scale,” said David Wanek of WTI. “Their unique technology has the potential to have a real and significant impact on the global fuels and chemicals market. WTI is excited to be joining LanzaTech on their journey to commercialization and we look forward to great things from them.”

“We are delighted to partner with WTI to accelerate our growth,” said LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren. “WTI have an outstanding reputation and this venture debt completes our current fundraising .We will continue to invest our capital in LanzaTech’s research and development program and to accelerate the commercialization of our integrated fuels and chemicals platform.”

The additional capital raise by LanzaTech takes care of the company’s capital needs through 2013.

At the same time, it became apparent that ZeaChem raised an additional $5.1 million in a previously unheralded extension of its Series C financing round, that closed at the end of August. The financing was detailed here in an SEC filing.

Last October, ZeaChem reported that it raised $19 million in Series C financing, led by Birchmere Ventures, and partner Sean D.S. Sebastian has joined the ZeaChem Board of Directors. Follow on investment was provided by existing investors Firelake Capital, Globespan Capital Partners, Mohr Davidow Ventures, PrairieGold Venture Partners and Spring Ventures. In November, the round expanded to $24 million with undisclosed new investors – although by March, Itochu announced that it had bought shares in the company.

The Cleantech 100

At the same time, 15 biobased and biofuels companies were named to the Global Cleantech 100 by the Cleantech Group, which said that it examined more than 6,000 companies in the Cleantech 100 process. Overall, nine of the companies also appear on the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy and 30 Hottest Companies in Renewable Chemicals rankings. The list, which is released alphabetically, only includes privately-held companies. The list includes:


Avantium develops and commercializes Furanics bioplastics and biofuels under the brand name YXY. The company develops biobased materials and fuels that can replace petroleum-based products in large markets such as bottles, flexible packaging and textiles.


BioAmber produces green chemistry products from agricultural crops, with a focus on the production of bio-based succinic acid. The company is currently expanding its succinic acid production facilities beyond demonstration scale to allow for the commercialization of bio-based succinic acid and its derivatives.


EdeniQ produces a technology platform that increases yield of conventional ethanol plants and is developing non-fuel biomass to biofuels conversion technology. The company’s products, available commercially or via EdeniQ’s testing facility, are marketed to ethanol producers in North and South America.


Enerkem develops biofuels and chemicals from waste. With its proprietary thermochemical technology, Enerkem converts municipal solid waste into biofuels and renewable chemicals.


Genomatica has developed a line of genetically-modified microbial organisms that can convert renewable feedstocks into green versions of commercial chemicals. It released its first commercial product and is partnering with other companies to develop its technology into usable products.


Founded in 2007, Joule is developing a process that mixes sunlight and CO2 with engineered photo synthetic organisms, to produce ethanol, diesel and other hydrocarbon molecules. The process is designed to yield low-cost products that can be manufactured in an efficient and fully scalable manner.


Kaiima has developed proprietary genomic-based breeding technologies to develop high-yielding energy seeds for bio-diesel, bio-ethanol, and biomass energy crops. The company currently has a limited amount of commercial products with a variety of new seed products in the development stage.


LanzaTech offers a novel process of carbon capture, using the carbon (CO and CO2) in readily available low value waste gas as an energy source for a gas fermentation process, to produce liquid fuels and chemicals. Input gases from a variety of energy intensive industries such as steel production, petroleum refining, cement manufacturing, and chemical processing, and from syngas generated from any biomass resource (including MSW, organic industrial waste, and agricultural waste), coal derived syngas, and reformed natural gas can be used to produce a diverse product slate, including ethanol and platform chemicals, such as acetic acid and 2,3-Butanediol (2,3 BDO). Hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel and jet can also be made through partner technology. By capturing CO which would otherwise be flared as CO2, LanzaTech is able to mitigate GHG emissions from a variety of process industries. LT’s technology provides an innovative and strategically important route to renewable fuels and chemicals that addresses the three pillars of sustainability; namely environmental, social, and economic.


LS9 is using a patent-pending, genetically modified version of E.coli known as DesignerMicrobes – to convert renewable raw materials into either biofuels or sustainable chemicals. The biofuels can be used in existing infrastructure and combustion systems, providing a low-carbon alternative to crude oil, and the sustainable chemicals can be used in existing industrial/manufacturing processes, providing a low-carbon alternative to industrial and commercial chemicals.

Marrone Bio Innovations

Marrone Bio Innovations develops natural weed, pest, and disease management products, focusing on disease control, herbicide and invasive mussel control. The company sells its products directly on its website and also has a signed distribution agreement with Syngenta to distribute the company’s Regalia product in specialty crop markets throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.


NexSteppe is a seed developer with a focus on feedstocks for biofuels, bio-materials and bio-power. The company has operations in the US and Brazil.


Novomer, founded at Cornell University, produces polymers by recycling pollutants. Its catalyst technologies transform carbon dioxide (CO2) into novel materials that contain up to 50% CO2 by mass, and have a wide range of application for other chemical processes. These materials are targeted for the packaging, automotive, construction, home products, and electronics industries. Novomer is currently developing partnerships with global corporations.


Also known as OPX Biotechnologies, OPXBIO is a uses its EDGE (Efficiency Directed Genome Engineering) technology platform to manufacture bio-based chemicals and fuels. OPXBIO has successfully developed the pilot-scale process for making its first bio-based chemical product – BioAcrylic – from a range of sugar feedstocks. OPXBIO is now producing BioAcrylic at large demonstration-scale in anticipation of first commercial production in 2014-2016.


Renmatix has developed a process to turn cellulosic feedstocks into sugar for advanced fuels and biochemical production using supercritical water. The company is developing the product and is working towards a commercial scale pilot facility.


Zeachem develops a wide array of fuels and chemicals such as acetic acid, ethyl acetate, ethanol, jet and diesel. Zeachem differentiates itself from the market with a unique biochemical and thermochemical hybrid process which the company says offers a higher efficiency and the ability to produce a range of products. The company chooses low-cost feedstocks that grow abundantly throughout the world and replenish quickly and easily in poor quality soil. This year, ZeaChem completed the construction of the core facility at its 250,000 gallon-per-year biorefinery where it has begun production of bio-based acetic acid and ethyl acetate. The company will begin production of cellulosic ethanol at the plant by the end of 2012.

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