New Zealand-founded bio-fuels innovator LanzaTech has attracted US$60 million in its latest capital-raising round, including a US$20 million commitment from Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsui, which will join the LanzaTech board.
Headquartered in Chicago, but with scientific operations led from its Auckland laboratories, LanzaTech is seeking up to US$80 million in its so-called "D round" of funding, with a second tranche possible later this year, according to a report on the authoritative BioFuels Digest website, which describes the latest capital-raising as a "monster haul."
Others participating in the round were German industrial giant Siemens, through its venture capital unit, CICC Growth Capital, and several of the firm's existing investors: US billionaire clean-tech investor Vinod Khosla's vehicle Khosla Ventures, Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall's K1W1 fund, Qiming Venture Partners, and the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund.
Mitsui said in a statement it would actively contribute to "developing next-generation biofuels and chemicals made from waste gases."
"Through this investment, Mitusui is going to be involved in marketing of LanzaTech's technology, business development and product take-off worldwide."
The operating officer for Mitsui's Energy Business Unit II, Toru Ryoso, has been appointed to the LanzaTech board.
Biofuels Digest reports the latest funds will be used to extend LanzaTech's core gas fermentation platform and product range, which so far includes fuels such as ethanol, or jet fuel, and commodity chemicals such as butadiene, used in nylon production and propylene, used in plastics manufacture.
The company's ground-breaking gas fermentation technique converts waste gases from industrial processes, such as carbon monoxide from steel mills, to commercially useful hydrocarbons and has attracted attention from the highest levels of the American defence industry, Chinese scientific academies, Chinese and Indian steel manufacturers and the civil aviation sector.
More recently, it has been developing processes using carbon dioxide waste streams.
It operates a string of demonstration facilities in China, Taiwan and India, and at the New Zealand Steel facility at Glenbrook. Its first commercial scale production plant is under construction for completion next year by Chinese steelmaker, BaoSteel.
The company first raised seed capital in New Zealand in 2005/06, followed by a US$3.5 million injection from Khosla Ventures in 2007 in its A Series funding round. The B round in 2010 raised a further US$18 million, led by Qiming Ventures, and the 2012 C Series raised a further US$55.8 million, led by the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund.
LanzaTech's technology has attracted numerous high profile international awards, including citation at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos as "an industry-changing company with potential to change the future."
The company has indicated in the past that it may make a public offering of shares in due course.