Sweden's Chemrec has received $20 million in a third round of financing to help it commercialize its technology for turning "black liquor" into a fuel. VantagePoint Venture Partners led the round. (Volvo is also an investor.)
No, it's not from the Beverly Hillbillies. Black liquor is a liquid biomass produced in pulp and paper processing. A paper mill might produce thousands of tons of this stuff a day. Most mills burn it to power their own machinery. Chemrec has come up with a way to efficiently gasify it (i.e., turn it into a vapor) before converting it into motor fuels. The process can also be used to produce electric power.
There's enough black liquor in the world to produce 45 billion liters of fuel a year, or enough to displace 2 percent of the global fuel demand.
Humans have burnt biomass for centuries to heat homes and cook food, but the process is increasingly going high tech. Along with Chemrec, keep your eye of Ze-Gen
, which dips biomass into vats of hot, liquid iron. The reaction produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which is then used to crank turbines.
The deal also underscores the ever-growing greentech activity in Scandanavia. Environmental regulations, high fuel prices, cold temperatures, high winds and lots and lots of trees have effectively made Denmark, Finland and Sweden some of Europe's bigger consumers and producers of wind turbines and other green technologies.