Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Imperium Renewables, the Seattle biodiesel producer that opened a 100 million gallon per year biodiesel plant in Grays Harbor County last week, is backing a Tacoma start-up that is developing a process to convert algae into biodiesel and ethanol.
The startup, Inventure Chemical, has raised about $1.5 million to continue development on a chemical process that turns algae into biodiesel and ethanol.
Imperium has not been shy about experimenting with algae to create biodiesel, especially since its plans to use imported palm oil have been met with criticism from environmentalists. Some believe that cultivating palm oil for energy needs could lead to the destruction of the rain forests.
In addition to the investment in Inventure, Imperium has a partnership with South San Francisco-based Solazyme, which also is attempting to convert algae into biofuels. In its IPO filing earlier this year, Imperium wrote that it would continue to explore “new or improved feedstock sources, such as jatropha, mustard and algae, in an effort to leverage our multi-feedstock capabilities and further reduce our production costs.”
Inventure has developed patent-pending technology that it says can process a variety of algae species, ranging from less than 1 micron to 10 microns, and including salt water and fresh water species and generate biodiesel and ethanol from the same algae mass.
Inventure claims that its process generates near the theoretical maximum triglyceride and fatty acid conversion yields to fatty acid methyl or ethyl esters.
Inventure CEO Mark Tegen said that the new capital will be used to continue the work on scaling up the production process, including CO2 sequestering projects. Some resources will also focus on recent advances in processes for algae to jet fuel production.