Virent Secures US $46M to Scale Up Biofuels Production

Virent Energy Systems Inc. has closed a US $46.4 million third round of funding in which Shell and Cargill deepened their investment in Virent’s technology platform. This new round of funding will advance Virent’s efforts to scale its BioForming process, a patented catalytic biorefinery platform, to commercial production volumes.

The investment agreement also expands an existing research and development collaboration with Shell for the production of biogasoline to include diesel fuel. With its new equity stake, Shell will also have a seat on Virent’s board. The investment round is further highlighted by 100 percent participation from existing investors.

The financing follows a March 2010 milestone in which Virent announced the successful start-up of the world’s first biogasoline production plant. The Virent demonstration plant can generate more than 10,000 gallons per year of premium biogasoline product and increases confidence in the commercial viability of the technology. Virent’s BioForming platform technology catalytically transforms soluble plant sugars into gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and chemical molecules like those refined from crude oil.

“Over the past four years, Cargill has supported Virent’s innovative sugars-to-hydrocarbons technology as it has evolved into a true biorefinery solution with the potential to help replace petroleum as the source of fuels and many chemicals,” said Scott Portnoy, corporate vice president of Cargill. “We also see the technology’s feedstock flexibility as an important characteristic to enable replacing the sugar source used in producing biogasoline with nonfood sources, such as sugars derived from lignocellulosic feedstocks.”

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