Bill Gates invests millions in biofuel company
September 16, 2016
Sept. 16, 2016 - Pennsylvania-based biofuel company Renmatix has announced a $14 million investment, led by Bill Gates.
Industry demand for competitive alternatives to petro-derived molecules is gaining traction, despite recent market pressures. In the interest of expanding that supply, the Plantrose process provides an enabling technology for profitable biorefineries. This investment in commercializing Plantrose will help drive towards the first wave of Renmatix licensees building Plantrose-enabled biorefineries in diverse global markets like Canada, India, Malaysia, the U.S. and elsewhere. In parallel, that activity will facilitate further market development in downstream bioproduct applications.
According to Gates, “To effectively address climate change, we need to develop an energy infrastructure that doesn’t emit greenhouse gas and is cost competitive. A critical component in this effort must be to decarbonize the industrial sector. Another is the possibility of cost competitive biofuels. Renmatix provides an innovative process that is an exciting pathway to pursue.”
Gates is joined in the round by Total, the global energy major which, after an initial investment in 2015, has expanded its investment and has additionally signed a licensing agreement with Renmatix for one million tons of annual cellulosic sugar production capacity, at Total’s discretion to build corresponding facilities. The license represents significant revenue potential for Renmatix, extending over the lifetime of the agreement.
“At Total, our ambition is to become the responsible energy major. We want to make low-carbon businesses a profitable growth driver accounting for 20% of our portfolio in 20 years’ time. Meeting these goals is what has led to setting-up and expanding our collaboration with Renmatix,” said Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of Total.
The patented Plantrose process uses supercritical water to reduce costs in conversion of biomass to cellulosic sugars, the critical intermediary for second-generation biochemicals and biofuels. With faster reactions and virtually no associated consumable-expenses, Renmatix’s supercritical hydrolysis economically enables a multitude of renewable process technologies to access the market for ‘high volume, low cost, broadly sourced’ cellulosic sugars that is compounding today. From this well established foundation in industrial sugars, the company continues to expand its product portfolio by valorizing additional bio building block intermediates, including Omno polymers and crystalline cellulose.
“This continued progress marks the pronounced acceleration of a new, sugar based, chemistry regime. One that can go beyond conventional oil based products for cleaner, more sustainable solutions,” said Renmatix CEO, Mike Hamilton. “While we’re working with partners to capitalize on the vast opportunity for biobased transformation in markets as diverse as the U.S. and India, this investment from Gates and Total together – shows recognition of our technological achievements, and magnifies our commercial momentum. That acknowledgment and Total’s signing of the million-ton license, are compelling indicators of our Plantrose technology’s maturation towards biorefinery scale.”
Renmatix is a technology licensor for the conversion of biomass into cellulosic sugar, an enabling feedstock for petroleum alternatives used in the global biochemical and biofuels markets. The company’s proprietary Plantrose process challenges conventional sugar economics by cheaply converting cellulosic biomass – from wood waste to agricultural residue – into useful, cost-effective Plantro® sugars and additional bio building blocks. Plantrose supercritical hydrolysis technology deconstructs non-food biomass an order of magnitude faster than other processes, and enhances its cost advantage by using no significant consumables. Renmatix is privately held, with a world-class technical center in Pennsylvania, a Feedstock Processing Facility (FPF) in New York, and production operations at the Integrated Plantrose Complex (IPC) in Georgia.
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