Virgin Fuels has joined founding investor Khosla Ventures in a Series B venture round for Gevo, Inc., a spinoff from Caltech, targeting the production of bio-butanol and other advanced biofuels from a variety of biomass feedstocks.
With the funding, Patrick Gruber has joined Gevo as CEO. Gruber was a founder and CTO of Cargill Dow/NatureWorks LLC, the first company to develop and successfully commercialize the renewable resource-based PLA (Polylactic Acid) to replace petrochemical plastics. At Cargill, Gruber conceived and tested the manufacturing process for the production of PLA from corn.
Gevo is based upon technology developed at the California Institute of Technology by Gevo founders Frances Arnold, Matthew Peters, and Peter Meinhold. The company, co-founded with Khosla Ventures, began with the focus of converting methane into methanol. A year into the company, the team decided to apply the technology to the production of butanol from cellulose.
At Caltech, the founders apply a variety of genetic engineering techniques and directed evolution design methods to enzymes, metabolic pathways, genetic circuits and ecosystems with the goal of generating novel enzymes and organisms for applications in medicine and in alternative energy.
Gevo has exclusively licensed technology in the field of biofuels developed in the labs of Frances Arnold at Caltech and other prominent labs.
Gevo aims to represent not only a step toward true energy diversity for the country, but yet another cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels. Major credit should be given to the founders of Gevo and the Caltech team for their groundbreaking work with biological systems toward new developments in alternative energy.—Vinod Khosla