BIOeCON press release:
Khosla Ventures and BIOeCON have announced the formation of their joint venture KiOR Inc., which will use BIOeCON's ‘Biomass Catalytic Cracking Process' (BCC) technology to converts lignocellulosic biomass, found in grass, wood, and various agricultural and forestry wastes, into a bio-oil product that can be further upgraded to transportation fuels. The conversion of cellulosic biomass to bio-oil represents a significant commercial opportunity that also offers important benefits, including using post-harvesting waste rather than competing with food crops; promoting environmental sustainability; reducing reliance on fossil fuels such as crude oil; and enabling economic development and job creation in rural areas.
Khosla Ventures, will provide the Series A funding, whereas BIOeCON will bring its knowledge and intellectual property for the ‘Biomass Catalytic Cracking Process' (BCC). KiOR Inc. will focus on the further development and commercialization of the BCC technology as well as prepare for raising significantly more capital in the next two to three years.
"The key technical problem in the conversion of cellulosic biomass into usable fuels is how to open up the inaccessible solid fibrous 'woody' material, so that it can be effectively transformed. Most of the existing processes to unlock the woody structures are quite costly and intensive of energy or chemicals," says Paul O'Connor, founder and president of BIOeCON. "BIOeCON has developed a simple non-energy intensive way to make the woody biomass accessible to catalysts and convert to a bio-oil product with significantly improved product properties compared to other thermal-chemical processes.
KiOR's concept and approach is unique and has the potential to become a large scale, widely applied technology, that can improve energy availability and sustainability to both the developed and developing world. The BCC technology unlocks the energy of vast amounts of biomass waste and converts it into a high valued energy product. This will not only reduce net carbon dioxide emission, but can also improve the energy independence of many countries.
Not any details about what they really have for technology. A thermo-chemical catalytic process that opens up the inaccessible solid fibrous 'woody' material of cellulosic biomass, so that it can be effectively transformed into bio-oil, in a non-energy intensive way, doesn't say much. They seem to imply that no enzymes are involved and that it is not a syngas-Fischer-Tropsch process, but because thermo is used they must use heat and obviously a catalyst. The Kholsa Ventures website list it as a future fuel. I don't blame them for not telling more, only one more company to watch in the field of biofuels.
And yes, biofuels are needed to fuel our plug-in hybrids so that we can be independent of non-friendly sources of oil. Electric cars will minimize, but not totally eliminate the need for liquid fuels.