Algae-to-Biofuel Company Viridos Raises $25 Million from Bill Gates, United Airlines & Chevron After Exxon Exits
Algae biofuel company Viridos announced today that it has raised $25 million, with funding aimed at supporting R&D for the creation and commercialization of sustainable, low- carbon, algae-based jet and diesel fuel.
The Series A financing was led by Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, with participation by Chevron and and United Airlines Ventures, and follows media reports last month that long-time Viridos partner ExxonMobil had ended its work with the company. Viridos had formed an R&D partnership with Exxon in 2010, collaborating on the development of next-generation biofuels from algae.
Founded in 2005, Viridos has been focused on designing, bioengineering and deploying microalgae to produce algae oil at scale as the preferred feedstock for renewable fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel (RD), particularly for heavy transport applications such as airplanes, trucks, ships, and trains. According to the company, SAF and RD made from its algae oil are expected to have a 70% reduced carbon footprint.
Oliver Fetzer, Viridos CEO, said:
We are excited to have the support from BEV, the leading energy transition venture capital fund, Chevron, and United Airlines. Together we can build the ecosystem needed to bring algae biofuels to the market. We look forward to bringing our oil-producing algae to commercial readiness and then growing them to produce scalable quantities of SAF and RD.”
According to Viridios, the new funding will be used for R&D to further increase algae oil productivity to reach commercially deployable levels.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures’ Carmichael Roberts said:
“Decarbonizing the heavy transportation industry is critical for addressing climate change and therefore a top priority for BEV. Oliver and his team at Viridos have a promising technology for converting algae into sustainable liquid fuels. The science behind their platform positions them to crack the code on the critical barriers to scale, making Viridos an important addition to BEV’s portfolio.”
The financing included a $5 million investment from the recently launched United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund, marking the fund’s first investment. Established last month with over $100 million of investments from United, and partners including Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell, the fund is aimed at investing in and supporting startups focused on SAF research, technology and production.
United Airlines Ventures President Mike Leskinen said:
“As the global aviation leader in SAF production investment, United remains committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions, without relying on traditional carbon offsets by 2050. Viridos’ algae-based biofuel technology has the potential to help solve our supply problem without the need for farmland or other agricultural resources, and marks our inaugural investment in our new cross-industry Sustainable Flight Fund.”