Monday, 29 September 2008

Clean Sweep 46

A round-up of recent news in clean technology and cleantech investment.

A US cleantech firm has established a new global headquarters in Cambridge after raising its first VC funding in the UK. Colorado-based Vairex raised £4m from London-based Entrepreneurs Fund (the parent fund of cleantech stalwart Good Energies) and Conduit Ventures, along with local business angels.
Vairex produces air management technology for fuel cells and systems to reduce particulate emissions from diesel engines. The new funding goes towards product development and pilot production facilities, as well as expanding the firm's global presence. The firm says its move to Cambridge aims 'to capitalise on the commercial and development opportunities available in a region regarded as a hotbed for high-tech and cleantech companies'.

University spin-out Magnomatics has raised £500,000 seed funding from the White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund and Fusion IP, the tech transfer wing of the University of Sheffield. The firm develops high-efficiency magnetic gearboxes for applications including wind turbines and hybrid cars.

Swedish fuel cell developer myFC has raised SKr22m (£1.8m) from investors including STING Capital, KTH Chalmers Capital and the Sixth Swedish Pension Fund.
The Stockholm-based company is developing proton exchange membrane fuel cells for mobile phones and laptops.

French renewables developer JMB Energie has raised an undisclosed round from investors led by Demeter Partners. The B├ęziers-based group operates wind and solar energy installations, and is also active in hydroelectric and biomass.
Environment/energy specialist Demeter also announced a first close of Euro125m on its new Demeter 2 cleantech fund. Target for the fund, which was launched in May, is Euro 200m.

Danish recycling tech group Shark Solutions raised DKr10m (£1m) from state investment fund Vaekstfonden. The Svinninge firm develops innovative equipment for the recycling industry, including mobile glass separators and compactors.

Bigger numbers over the pond, as utility-scale solar developer SolarReserve raised a $140m second round led by Good Energies and Citi Alternative Investments. The California company is aiming to build over 5GW worth of 50-300MW solar thermal plants around the world.
The firm holds exclusive global rights to Rocketdyne's molten salt power tower technology. As the name suggests, this uses huge mirror arrays to concentrate solar heat onto molten salt - the hot liquid then stores the energy until it's needed to drive a steam turbine. SolarReserve says that the tech 'represents a unique blend of liquid rocket engine heat transfer technology and molten salt handling expertise' - it really is rocket science!

Another Californian concentrating solar prospect, GreenVolts, meanwhile raised a $30m second round from Oak Investment Partners. The funding paves the way towards the company's first full-scale CPV installations.

In other solar deals, thin-film developer Sencera completed a $15.6m round led by Quercus Trust and Equinox Securities, towards its first, 35MW module factory; and single-crystal silicon substrate producer Confluence Solar raised a $12.7m first round led by Convexa Capital.

Algal biofuel group Sapphire Energy announced a second round of around $50m. Exact numbers (or investor identities) weren't released, but the San Diego firm said its total funding was now 'substantially more than $100 million', and it announced a $50m round in June. Sapphire says it now has enough funds to move to full commercial feasibility, but is likely to ask for more from existing investors as it moves towards its target of 10,000b/d production.

Smart grid developer GridPoint raised $120m from undisclosed investors. The Virginia firm will use the cash for acquisitions, starting with V2Green which is developing tech to help power supplies manage the demands of plug-in vehicles.

Also in electric vehicles, motorcycle developer Brammo raised $10m from investors including Chrysalix Energy Ventures and Best Buy Venture Capital. The money helps the Oregon firm take its whizzy-looking Enertia bike into commercial production.

Californian flywheel energy storage business Pentadyne Power closed a $22m round from undisclosed investors. A year ago, the firm was planning a $30m flotation on AIM - market turmoil since has presumably put paid to that.

Rechargeable nickel-zinc battery developer Powergenix is still planning an IPO, following a $30m fourth round led by Bessemer Venture Partners. The San Diego firm says a float won't happen for at least a year, however.

Finally, a trio of water purification deals - LA-based NanoH2O raised $15m for its next-gen reverse osmosis membranes; Canada's Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies completed a $10.5m round from Vantagepoint and London-based Foursome Investments for its pollutant-into-fertiliser tech; and Israel's BioPetroClean raised $5m from 21 Ventures for its bacterial treatment process.

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