Sapphire Energy, a company that creates algae-based fuel, just announced a whopping $144 million in funding.
In recent years several startups have emerged to create fuel out of plant material, all hoping to lure people away from gasoline made from crude oil. Solazyme, Algae.tec, and Sapphire Energy all dominate the space, trying to edge not only each other, but oil companies as well.
All three companies covert algae into a petroleum replacement, one that can work with the traditional cars we already have on the road.
Creating green crude, a substance that is converted into jet fuel, automobile gasoline, and biodiesel, is a process that has been around for several years. However, Sapphire’s recent investment proves that the technology is still going strong and we could very well all be driving around on algae-based gas sometime soon. Sapphire has gained a lot of traction by signing deals with Continental Airlines and Boeing to test out algae-based jet fuel, and the company partnered with Toyota to create an algae powered Prius.
Monsanto was one of the investors in this round and the company has been using Sapphire’s technology for its own genetic modification needs. Arrowpoint Partners and other private undisclosed investors led the round as well. This $144 million third round brings the green tech company’s total to $300 million.
The funding will be used to expand its Green Crude farm in New Mexico, an algae energy demonstration plant. Sapphire expects the plant to produce 1.5 million gallons of green crude by 2014.
Sapphire Energy was found in 2007 and has been funded by Arch Venture Partners, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, the Wellcome Trust, Venrock, and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment.
Copyright 2012, VentureBeat
Research associate Emma Valdez checks on bottles of algae being cultivated for biofuel research at the Sapphire Energy facility in San Diego on March 26.
A research associate takes a sample of algae being cultivated for biofuel research at Sapphire Energy. The company cultivates algae to create crude oil that can be processed in existing refineries into jet fuel, diesel and gasoline.
Research associate Emma Valdez, left, speaks with a co-worker March 26 about bottleswith algae being cultivated for biofuel research.