A Sugar Fix: Proterro, biofuels and affordable, renewable sugars

December 18, 2012 |

Why is making affordable renewable sugars potentially big business? Which intrepid investors have targeted biofuels’ biggest bottleneck?

News has been circulating that Proterro raised $3.5 million for a demonstration-scale of their renewable sugars technology, and secured a key patent allowance for their bioreactor system and microorganism. Giving us a good opportunity to review how Proterro, in making sugars, is different from companies like Renmatix and BlueFire that are extracting sugars. Why the development of low-cost sugars is critical to key advanced biofuels and biobased technologies.

And what solid-phase bioreactors are all about, and why it’s a trend to watch in bioreactor design.

New investors join Proterro as all the incumbents re-up

In New Jersey, Proterro has closed on a $3.5- million financing round led by current investor Braemar Energy Ventures. Cultivian Ventures and Middleland Capital joined as new investors, with other existing investors, Battelle Ventures and Innovation Valley Partners, also participating in the round.

“From day one Proterro has made breaking that cost barrier its mission and its disruptive technology has already consistently shown the potential to make low-cost sugar a reality – giving the industry the boost it needs,” said Ron Meeusen, Cultivian’s founder.

“Proterro’s novel process for developing sucrose differentiates the company from all other approaches, which extract sugars from biomass,” echoed Bill Lese, managing partner at Braemar Energy Ventures.

The Digest’s Take: Not a bad investment for Braemar at all — given that they can win two ways, one directly through Proterro’s success; alternatively, via existing investments like Solazyme that could really benefit from affordable feedstocks. Fascinating and transformative technology, if it works, when it works.

We continue the Proterro story in today’s Digest, here

EXTENSIONWhy Affordable Renewable Sugars are a Monster Prize

EXTENSIONMaking sugars, not extracting them: Proterro’s Technology

EXTENSIONThe Bottom Line, when will we know about Proterro?

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