Greenfuel Extends Funding Round, Collects $13.9 Million

Greenfuel Technologies, the Cambridge, MA-based algae farming company temporarily headed by Polaris Venture Partners general partner Bob Metcalfe, said today that it has collected an additional $13.9 million in venture capital from inside investors in an extension of its Series B funding round. The money, which will be used to retire debt and scale up an algae farm project begun in January, comes from Polaris as well as Access Private Equity and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

As we reported last summer, Greenfuel was forced to shut down its algae bioreactor systems, which are designed to convert carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel plants into clean-burning algae-based biofuels, after the reactors began producing more algae than the company could properly process. The snafu resulted in the layoff of half of the company’s staff as well as the departure of CEO Cary Bullock, who was replaced by Metcalfe for an “interim” period that has now lasted 10 months.

In a letter to investors last June, Metcalfe laid out a seven-step plan for getting the company back on track, including cutting expenses, raising interim cash, scaling back and restarting the Arizona-based algae greenhouse and completing a planned demonstration there, accelerating development of the company’s next-generation bioreactors, developing plans for a commercial-scale greenhouse and signing up at least one commercial partner, hiring a new CEO, and completing a Series C equity financing round. Metcalfe said in late January that the first five steps of that plan had been completed.

In a press release today, Metcalfe said the completion of the extended B round marked the beginning of the end of the company’s interim period. But the company still has some work to do—including completing the last two steps of its plan. “GreenFuel’s algae farming technologies are advancing in our 100m2 bioreactors, but they are not yet fully developed or scaled,” Metcalfe said. “In the coming weeks, we expect to announce signed development and scaling projects, the arrival of our scaling CEO, and the raising of a strategic C round. These announcements will mark successful completion of our seven-step Interim Plan.”

Greenfuel believes that its bioreactors can produce algae that can be harvested, dried, and converted into food, animal feed, or biodiesel fuel. Sited next to CO2-producing sources such as coal-burning electrical plants, algae bioreactors can theoretically be 20 times more productive than corn or soy farms, without using up agricultural land or clean water, the company claims.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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