Politicians have been making hay over funding renewable energy, but investors are still seeing green. Siluria Technologies, a company that converts natural gas into petrochemicals, today announced that it has received US$20 million in Series B funding.
Investors include Alloy Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Altitude Life Science Ventures, Lux Capital and Presidio Ventures. The company says that it is in conversations with stakeholders within the fuels industry, chemicals industry, and materials industry.
Siluria commercialized MIT materials research into biosynthetic technology for metal nanowire catalysts that are grown on a biological template. The catalysts serve as a replacement for oil to create the chemicals and products that make modern life possible.
The resulting chemical reaction becomes thermochemical even though it started as a biological process, explained Rahul Iyer, senior director of corporate development. It also produces energy as a co-product.
The petrochemical industry utilizes similar thermochemical reactions to create materials such as plastics, but manufacturing processes are dependent on the hydrocarbons that are found in oil. Needless to say, the world's oil supply is finite and becoming more expensive.
Moreover, those processes also consume vast quantities of energy, heat and water, and the industry has spent decades researching alternatives.
Siluria’s catalysts are a suitable replacement for oil because they provide a low cost feedstock and energy energy savings, Iyer explained. “There’s a lower environmental and economical cost of production.”
It is currently developing processes around three separate catalysts for large-scale petrochemical production. Here’s some more specific details about how the process works: