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Solazyme turns algae based oil into green

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Solazyme has raised another US$52M from investors to support broadening business growth for its create to create bulk amounts of renewable oil.

Solazyme, a company that produces oil from green algae, announced today that it has raised some more green from investors with US$52 million in series D financing.

The company has developed a process to create renewable oil through microbial fermentation - meaning that algae is decomposed into fuel by microbes. Ethanol fuel is similarly produced by the microbial fermentation of sugar.

The finished product can be utilized as a "clean" fuel source, or be used for chemicals, food ingredients, and health and wellness products, Solazyme says. The process is designed for scale and speed, according to the company.

The round was lead by Braemar Energy Ventures and new investor Morgan Stanley. Other investors are Harris and Harris Group, Lightspeed Venture Partners, The Roda Group, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Zygote Ventures, according to Solazyme's press release.

Series D funding is often used to finance growth opportunities before a company is acquired or makes an initial public offering of common stock. Solazyme was founded in 2003, and is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

"Our technology and commercialization plans are progressing rapidly. We are executing against multiple partnerships with global industry leaders and the U.S. Department of Defense on a rapid path to commercialization,” Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson said in a prepared statement. “The strong support from our current investors in the Series D is indicative of our ability to exceed milestones, including the production of renewable oil for multiple applications at large scale.”

The aforementioned investors, save new investor Morgan Stanley, had participated in previous rounds of financing, according to Solazyme. Chevron Technology Ventures's investment arm CTTV Investment, and San-Ei Gen, a Japanese manufacturer and distributor of food ingredients, also participated.

Support for the development of biofuels extends beyond the private sector. United States government agencies, including NASA, have financed research into algae-based fuels.

The New York Times profiled the biofuel industry in late July. Its report pointed out the potential pitfalls of the microbial process, specifically its reliance on strains of specially crafted microorganisms that some environmentalists warn could be harmful to the ocean.


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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure