LED Lighting Fixtures said Monday the company raised $16.5 million in a second round of financing to bring energy-efficient lighting to businesses and homes.

The funding, led by Digital Power Capital, brings the company's total capital to $23 million.

Founded in 2005, LED Lighting Fixtures plans to use the money to expand its product line and to find ways to lower costs, among other things.

The Morrisville, N.C.-based company has developed a line of downlighting -- or recessed lighting -- fixtures using light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

LED Lighting Fixtures said its technology uses 85 percent less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs and lasts more than 20 times longer.

However, the greener approach will require customers to dig deeper into their pockets. The company's LED fixtures are priced at about $75 each.

That's more expensive than compact fluorescent lighting -- and far more expensive than incandescent lighting -- but the company claims customers can make up the price difference within a year from energy savings, fewer bulb purchases and lower installation costs.

According to the Department of Energy, about 22 percent of the electricity consumed in the U.S. is by lighting, with much of that coming from incandescent bulbs. Energy-efficient alternatives could take a bite out of that consumption, if companies can cut costs.

Oil From Slime

Canada-based International Energy said Monday it is collaborating with the University of California, Berkeley to turn algae into oil.

Researchers, government and companies have honed in on algae as a potential feedstock for next-generation biofuels because certain species contain high amounts of lipids (read: oil) that can be extracted, processed and refined into fuel.

But challenges, such as the difficulty of producing large amounts of algae cheaply, have stood in the way of widespread adoption.

Last week, algae for fuel got a boost when Chevron Corp. and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced they are teaming up on a research and development project to improve transportation fuels using algae (see Chevron Seeks Slime).

International Energy said its work with Berkeley seeks to advance methods of making biofuel using the company's proprietary algae strain.

International Energy said it will pay the university $238,680 for its efforts.

The university has been drawing attention from companies looking to conduct biofuel research. In February, BP invested $500 million in biofuels research to be led by the university.

The company also has announced a smaller research partnership with Arizona State University (see Earth2tech post). And, in September, ethanol startup Mascoma paired with the University of Tennessee to build a biorefinery.