Viridos (founded as Synthetic Genomics (SGI) in 2005) (earlier post) has raised a $25-million Series A equity investment. The Series A was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and joined by Chevron USA . and United Airlines Ventures. The funding will be used for R&D to further increase algae oil productivity to reach commercially deployable levels.
Globally, diesel and jet fuel account for more than one-third of the liquid fossil fuel used. The heavy transportation sector—comprising aviation, shipping, and long-distance trucking—relies on these fuels with demand expected to continue to grow for decades, creating major decarbonization challenges.
Viridos aims to solve this challenge by leading the bioengineering of microalgae and has already achieved seven times the oil productivity compared to wild algae. This sets the stage for the scalable and sustainable production of algae oil as the feedstock of choice for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel (RD). SAF and RD made from Viridos algae oil are expected to have a 70% reduced carbon footprint.
Viridos’ bioengineering technology consists of genetically engineering algae, combined with optimized production processes and systems to enable large scale production. The company’s approach combines several important and unique attributes contributing to scalability and sustainability, including:
Surface area oil productivities of Viridos algae far exceed any traditional oil crop, achieving high algae oil output on comparatively small areas.
Viridos algae are grown in vessels containing seawater. This allows contained deployment in hot and dry locations without taxing scarce freshwater and arable land resources, while eliminating runoff.
Viridos algae have extremely high oil contents facilitating downstream processing to algae oil.
Viridos algae oil is a quality plant oil allowing existing bio-refineries to process the oil with high yields.
SAF is proven, scalable, and the best tool we have to reduce our carbon emissions from flying, but we face a significant shortage of available feedstock. As the global aviation leader in SAF production investment, United remains committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions, without relying on traditional carbon offsets by 2050. Viridos’ algae-based biofuel technology has the potential to help solve our supply problem without the need for farmland or other agricultural resources, and marks our inaugural investment in our new cross-industry Sustainable Flight Fund.—United Airlines Ventures President Mike Leskinen