Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Clean Sweep 69

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

Green cement developer Novacem raised something over £1m from Imperial Innovations, the London Technology Fund and the new Royal Society Enterprise Fund.
A spin-out from Imperial College London, Novacem is developing a cement which absorbs more carbon dioxide over its lifetime than is emitted in its production. Production of regular Portland cement produces around 5% of global CO2 emissions. Novacem estimates that each tonne of conventional cement replaced by its own product will reduce net emissions by .75t of CO2. The firm aims to complete a pilot plant by the end of the year.

Semiconductor technology company Surrey NanoSystems secured £1.75m from investors led by Octopus Ventures. Seed investor IP Group also invested alongside the University of Surrey and private investors.
Spun out from the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute, Surrey NanoSystems is commercialising a low-temperature growth process for carbon nanotubes. Applications include advanced solar cells and fuel cells.

French fuel cell tech group Pragma Industries has raised Euro412,000 from Finaque, Oseo Capital and others.
Based near Biarritz, Pragma supplies test stations and components to PEM fuel cell developers, and is also developing its own 100W-10KW cells.

US biofuel group Amyris Biotechnologies has raised $24.7m of a planned $62m third round, according to a regulatory filing. Investors weren't disclosed, but previous backers include Khosla Ventures and KPCB.
The California firm uses an engineered strain of yeast to produce fuels and other chemicals, from crops and agricultural waste. The firm recently opened a demonstration plant in Brazil using local sugarcane.

KPCB has also reportedly backed water treatment company Applied Process Technology. The California-based firm is commercialising an advanced oxidation process for water treatment and remediation applications.

Controversial electric vehicle company ZAP secured up to $25m in funding from China-focused Cathaya Capital. The package included $5m equity (with options on a further $10m) and a $10m loan facility.
ZAP says it will use the investment to accelerate production and sales of its all-electric vehicles in Europe and China. The Californian firm has drawn criticism for failing to deliver on previous promises, however.

Green plastics developer Novomer announced a $14m second round led by OVP Venture Partners. Previous investors Physic Venture Partners, Flagship Venture Partners and DSM Venturing also joined the round.
The New York company is developing a catalytic method of creating polymers and industrial chemicals using carbon dioxide and monoxide as a feedstock.

Printed electronics developer Plextronics raised $14m from investors led by Belgian chemicals group Solvay. The Pennsylvania firm is commercialising LED lighting and thin-film PV products based on organic inks.

Manufacturing tech group Advanced Electron Beams closed a $14.2m third round led by Flagship Ventures. Previous investors Atlas Venture, General Catalyst Partners, RockPort Capital Partners and Agman Partners, as well as corporate investor GE, also joined in.
Massachusetts-based AEB produces electron beam devices used to sterilise products and packaging in a more energy-efficient way than the thermal and chemical technologies usually used in the pharmaceutical and food industries. The firm is also developing new applications in clean manufacturing and materials engineering.

Small turbine producer Southwest Windpower announced an undisclosed round led by PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund. Previous investors Altira, GE Energy Financial Services, NGP Energy Technology Partners, and Rockport Capital Partners also joined in. Funding goes towards global marketing of its Skystream plug-and-play residential turbine.

Energy management group Power Assure closed a $2.5m first round from DFJ and individual investors. The California firm uses software to help data centres cut their energy use by up to half.

Carbon sequestration company SunOne Solutions raised an undisclosed round from carbon finance group C-Quest Capital. The funding will support national expansion for the Nebraska firm, which specialises in agricultural sequestration projects such as conservation tillage and sustainable forestry which are eligible for carbon credits under various trading regimes.

In a potentially very interesting deal, Canadian fusion energy developer General Fusion secured C$22m funding. GrowthWorks Capital, Braemar Energy Ventures, Chrysalix Energy Ventures and The Entrepreneurs Fund provided C$9m between them, while the state-backed Sustainable Development Canadian Technology Fund is providing up to C$13.9m.
General Fusion is developing a magnetised target fusion reactor in partnership with researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and has a pat-pending technology for collapsing the plasma using low-cost pneumatics. The firm says this can potentially reduce the cost of fusion energy tenfold, allowing it to compete directly with current generation tech.
Like any fusion technology, it's a long shot, but the potential rewards are immense.

Fund news
Whimsically-named German VC The Foo has launched a Euro25m sustainability fund, and is seeking investment from ethical investment houses and individuals. The fund isn't specifically aimed at cleantech, but will have strict environmental and social criteria.

Cleantech stalwart Khosla Ventures closed its new seed-stage fund at $250m. Three quarters of the fund will be aimed at cleantech, with the rest targeted at IT. State pension fund Calpers provided $60m of the total. Khosla is also believed to be raising a $750m later-stage fund.

And NGP Energy Technology Partners has closed its second cleantech fund at $348m, ahead of its $300m target. The Washington DC investor now has around $496m under management.

Further reading
The Carbon Trust has launched an Innovation Awards competition for developers and users of low carbon technologies. Development categories include power, buildings, transport, and industry; and there's also awards for early adoption in the private and public sectors. No cash prize, but it'd be good for marketing.

Good article from the Economist a few weeks ago on Britian's looming energy crunch.

Finally, for fans of speculative fiction, here's the GreenPunk Manifesto.

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