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Flagship Ventures invests in BTL startup Red Rock Biofuels

Flagship Ventures is investing in Red Rock Biofuels, which is commercializing a Fischer-Tropsch-based process for the conversion of woody biomass into renewable, drop-in diesel and jet fuels. As part of the investment, Flagship will assume a seat on the Red Rock Board of Directors and serve as a strategic advisor for future fundraising efforts. Red Rock is working to build its first commercial scale refinery in Lakeview, OR.

Red Rock takes waste biomass from forests and sawmills, and using a proprietary process, transforms it into domestically produced jet, diesel and naphtha fuels. The company’s process begins with the gasification of woody biomass to produce syngas, which is then cleaned and sent to a Fischer-Tropsch unit where it is converted to a high grade, renewable syncrude. Finally, standard upgrading refines the syncrude to yield renewable jet, diesel and naphtha fuels which provide a lower carbon, cost competitive alternative to crude oil-based fuels.

Flagship will provide financial and strategic expertise as Red Rock moves toward construction of a commercial-scale refinery and secures additional partnerships, funding and customers. Flagship partner Brian Baynes, Ph.D., led the investment and will join Red Rock’s board of directors.

Last year, Red Rock received a $70-million DPA Title III award from the US Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy to help build its $200 million refinery. (Earlier post.) The refinery, slated to begin construction this summer, will convert approximately 140,000 dry tons of woody biomass into 15 million gallons per year of renewable, liquid transportation fuels. Also in 2014, Southwest Airlines agreed to purchase approximately 3 million gallons per year of Red Rock’s low carbon, renewable jet fuel. (Earlier post.)

Throughout 2015, Red Rock expects to continue expanding both its team and geographic footprint through additional refineries.

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