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Proterro secures $3.5M in new funding to advance its noncellulosic sucrose for biofuels and biobased chemicals; progress on patent on sucrose-producing cyanobacteria
18 December 2012
|Proterro engineered cyanobacteria for continuous high-yield production of sucrose, which can then be used in the production of biofuels and biochemicals. Source: Proterro. Click to enlarge.|
Proterro, Inc.—the only company making sugar instead of extracting it from crops—has closed on a $3.5-million financing round led by current investor Braemar Energy Ventures. Proterro has engineered cyanobacteria (from the group consisting of Synechococcus and Synechocystis) that naturally produce only sucrose to secrete the sucrose in a continuous, high-yield process. The sucrose can then be used in the production of biofuels and biochemicals. (Earlier post.)
In addition, the company announced it has received a notice of allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office on a cornerstone composition of matter patent (US Patent Application No. 12/348,887) protecting the company’s sucrose-producing cyanobacteria and their new genetic code.
|Proterro projects a significant difference in the cost per pound of sucrose compared to production from sugarcane. Source: Proterro. Click to enlarge.|
Proterro combines its core microorganism technology with a patent-pending, high-density, modular, solid-phase photobioreactor for scalable production non-crop-based, noncellulosic, sucrose that avoids the pricing volatility associated with corn and other feedstock markets.
The company projects it can produce its sucrose at a cost of less than $.05/lb.—far less than sugarcane, corn, other energy crops, or cellulosic sugar approaches.
In terms of unit economics, Proterro projects that at commercial scale-up, a plant operator could deliver an EBITDA of $1.24 per gallon of ethanol using Proterro sucrose, compared to an EBITDA of $0.33 per gallon for a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant.Proterro’s leadership team includes advisors with extensive experience from BP, Cargill, Gevo and Solazyme.
Cultivian Ventures and Middleland Capital joined as new investors in this round, with other existing investors, Battelle Ventures and its affiliate, Innovation Valley Partners, also participating in the round.
Excerpts from USPTO Notice of Allowance
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