“Q Microbe” Shows Promise for Advancing Cellulosic Ethanol

SunEthanol Inc., a biofuels technology company, announced last week that it has secured funding to commercialize the Q Microbe, a unique natural bacteria capable of converting cellulose into ethanol.

Series A financing for developing patent-pending cellulosic ethanol technology around the Q microbe has been provided by VeraSun Energy, Battery Ventures, Long River Ventures and AST Capital. SunEthanol’s Q Microbe technology, licensed from the University of Massachusetts, has the potential to make the production of ethanol from cellulose economically competitive.

“We are harnessing the power of a naturally occurring microbe in order to convert various forms of biomass into fuel,” said SunEthanol CEO Jef Sharp. “In addition to funding the growth of the company, I am very encouraged by the synergies that result from this round of financing. It will enable us to accelerate the commercialization of our novel technology.”

SunEthanol’s Q Microbe represents true consolidated bio-processing (CBP), a technology that consolidates multiple steps into a single efficient and natural process. It was discovered by University of Massachusetts professor of microbiology, Dr. Susan Leschine in the soil of New England, near the Quabbin Reservoir, and is being developed for cellulosic ethanol production by Dr. Leschine and the SunEthanol lab team.

The team believes that the Q Microbe’s CBP process can be used with a wide variety of plentiful biomass feedstocks including: switchgrass, corn stover, wheat straw, sugar cane bagasse, and wood pulp.

“We have looked at a number of cellulosic ethanol technologies, and are thrilled to make this investment in a potentially game-changing technology,” said Jason Matlof, partner at Battery Ventures.

“The development of a CBP solution has long been the goal of the biofuels industry, and SunEthanol has proven that their microbiological process has unique capabilities to meet the industry’s objectives. This funding will give them the support needed to increase the performance and scale of their technology as they work toward bringing it to market,” added Matlof.

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