March 18, 2008

GreenFuel lands big deal for algae fuel plant

GreenFuel Technologies has reached an agreement to build an algae-to-fuel plant in Europe, which could be worth as much as $92 million, according to a report.

Xconomy on Friday reported the deal, saying that it was apparently brokered by former CEO Cary Bullock who was replaced by Bob Metcalf last year in a company shake-up.

GreenFuel has developed a bioreactor that grows algae from the carbon dioxide emissions of power plants. The algae is harvested and turned into different types of fuel--either biodiesel or biomass--that can be burned to make electricity.

The company ran into trouble last year when it found that its process was too expensive because it generated too much algae and required too much manual intervention.

The board replaced Bullock as CEO with interim CEO Metcalf, best known for his contribution to inventing Ethernet and who is now venture capitalist at Polaris Ventures.

The company is operating a pilot plant with the utility Arizona Public Service Company.

The reported deal comes after a few other biofuels companies have gained funding to expand toward commercial-scale plants.

On Friday, Range Fuels said it is has secured $100 million to build a gasification plant that will make ethanol from blue chips.

Also last week, ethanol company Coskata, which General Motors has invested in, was said to have landed $19 million to ramp up its operations.

Update 12:18 p.m. Pacific.In response to a query, GreenFuel's interim CEO Bob Metcalf said that the company can "neither confirm nor deny these rumors."

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