Terragia Biofuel raised $6 million in a seed round led by Engine Ventures and Energy Impact Partners. Terragia officials say the company will use the capital to commercialize its biology-based approach to converting cellulosic biomass into ethanol and other products, expand its employee headcount, and initiate partnerships with major biofuel producers.

Terragia uses engineered thermophilic bacteria to break down cellulosic biomass and convert it into ethanol and other chemical products. The company’s technology avoids key features responsible for the high cost of conventional cellulosic biofuel production by one-step “consolidated” bioprocessing without added enzymes, and leveraging mechanical disruption during fermentation (i.e., “cotreatment”) in lieu of thermochemical pretreatment, according to a company spokesperson.

Critical for climate stabilization

“Cellulosic biofuels are a route to low-carbon fuels for aviation and other difficult-to-electrify transport modes as well as CO2 removal from the atmosphere, both of which are critical for climate stabilization,” says Martin Keller, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “One-step biological conversion of cellulosic biomass without added enzymes or thermochemical pretreatment has clear cost reduction potential relative to other process concepts.”

biotech officials
Left to right: Lee Lynd, D.Eng, CTO, Co-founder, Terragia Biofuel; Kristin Brief, CEO; Chris Herring, PhD, Co-founder and VP of Technology Development [Terragia Biofuel/Business Wire]
“Conversion of ethanol to fuels for planes, ships, and trucks is a leading option for approximately half of future global transportation energy demand, for which electrification is likely impractical, corresponding to a trillion dollar market,” adds Lee Lynd, D.Eng, a distinguished professor at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering and director of the Advanced Second Generation Biofuel Lab at the University of Campinas, Brazil, With full penetration of this market, Terragia’s technology is projected to displace three gigatons of CO2 emissions annually and enable capture of a yet larger amount of CO2.”

In partnership with Dartmouth College and the University of Campinas, the ongoing development of Terragia’s technology is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Center for Bioenergy Innovation and the São Paulo Research Foundation, by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation, as well as private capital.

Terragia also announced leadership changes with the appointment of Kristin Brief as CEO, effective immediately. Brief joins Lynd, who transitioned to CTO, Bill Brady, board chair, and Chris Herring, PhD, VP of technology development.

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