Biofuel company LS9 Inc., the Renewable Petroleum Company(TM), is using synthetic biology to produce proprietary biofuels that resemble petroleum — but which are designed to be “renewable, clean, domestically produced, and cost competitive.” The company said today that it raised $5 million in its first round of venture funding from Flagship Ventures and Khosla Ventures, two early-stage investment firms.
The San Carlos, California company was founded in 2005 by Khosla Ventures, Flagship Ventures, along with two scientists, Chris Somerville, Director of the Carnegie Institution and Professor of Plant Biology at Stanford University, and George Church, Director of the MIT-Harvard US-Dept. of Energy GTL Center and Professor of Genetics at Harvard.
The companies products, currently under development, are designed to closely resemble petroleum derived fuels. Derived from diverse agricultural feedstocks, these high energy liquid fuels are renewable and compatible with current distribution and consumer infrastructure.
LS9 combines core competencies in industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology to design, develop, and commercialize industrial bioprocesses. Industrial biotechnology is the application of biocatalysis for the large scale production of chemical products. Synthetic biology is the state of the art of bioenegineering, and refers to the design, construction, and improvement of biological machines at the molecular genetic level. They have identified the key components of a cost effective process and defined which components are best controlled physically, chemically, and biologically. Bringing experience in industrial biotechnology from Cargill, Codexis, Kosan, Cubist, and Diversa and synthetic biology from Harvard, UC Berkeley, MIT, and Stanford, the LS9 team is uniquely suited to design, develop, and commercialize the next generation of biofuels.
"Thanks to rapid advances in industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology along with the strength and talent of our scientific team, LS9 is uniquely suited to design, develop, and commercialize the next generation of biofuels," said Dr. Somerville.
"We have looked to nature to identify the required biological tools, redesigned them to function under industrial conditions, and are optimizing their performance to meet our economic objectives," added Dr. Church.
Doug Cameron, former head of biotechnology research at Cargill and acting Chief Executive Officer of LS9 Inc., said the advances stand to change the dynamics of the fuel market.
"LS9 is pursuing a disruptive technology in a large established market," Dr. Cameron said. "Our rate of scientific progress is a testament to the quality of the team we have assembled at LS9."
Not much real information about their technology -- If Kholsa and Flagship are backing them they must have something. Seems to me they could give DuPont a run for their money in competition with biobutanol.