Recent Posts:

Keronite, Ze-Gen, Start Green, and various backlogged news items

Rob Day: August 29, 2006, 10:34 AM
  • Keronite, which is using a plasma electrolytic oxidation process to improve the surface characteristics of aluminum and magnesium so they can be used in place of heavier steel, raised a GBP10.2mm private placement. The major funders included Hotbed business angels, RAB Capital, Bank of Scotland Growth Equity, Quester, Fidelity, and New Star. GBP5.5mm will be used to pay off shareholder loans and bridge financing.
  • Yet another new cleantech investor on the European scene, as Start Green has been formed in the Netherlands. The firm plans to deploy 8mm euro into sustainable technology startups in the region. Fortis Venturing, Triodos Innovation Fund, and DOEN Participaties have provided the funds.
  • Energy storage news: Good articles with updates on energy storage technologies here and here...

Used Cardboard Boxes, Waste Remedies, and Altira

Rob Day: August 28, 2006, 8:49 PM
  • Waste Remedies, a consulting firm that focuses on waste disposal optimization for property managers, manufacturers and retail / restaurants, announced a raise of $8.5mm from Advantage Capital Partners, Southwest Bank of St. Louis, and management. Advantage provided $2.3mm of the raise.
  • In cleantech investor news, today's VentureWire mentioned that energy tech investor Altira Group is out raising a new fund.

Biorem, Biox and other news

Rob Day: August 22, 2006, 2:44 PM
  • (self-promotion alert) It was recently announced that Expansion Capital Partners' Clean Technology Fund II, LP has agreed to purchase an additional 1,700,000 shares in Biorem Inc. Biorem's proprietary biofiltration media is used to control air pollution in municipal and industrial applications. They're publicly-traded on the TSX Venture (BRM.V). This agreement would bring Expansion Capital's total ownership up to 25.9% of outstanding shares.
  • Courtesy of Tyler: Another Canadian cleantech company, Biox Corp., raised C$70mm, including C$48mm from Birch Hill Equity Partners. The company's proprietary biodiesel production process has already been implemented in one commercial scale plant in Ontario.

Other news and notes: Solar in California got a boost with the recent signing of the new state solar law -- but the really interesting data is found here, where Excel junkies can download several years' worth of solar system sizing and cost data for the state... Zenergy becomes the latest cleantech company to do an AIM listing... Finally, looking forward to seeing everyone for the Antenna Group - Renewable Energy Business Network happy hour at the 111 Minna Gallery tonight at 6pm.

Infinite Power and infinite power

Rob Day: August 21, 2006, 6:34 PM
  • PE Week Wire reported today that thin-film battery developer Infinite Power Solutions, which has applications in smart cards, RFID, and other uses, raised $35mm in a Series A-1. PEWW notes that shareholders (both new and any pre-existing) include Core Capital Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, SpringWorks LLC, D.E. Shaw, Advanced Energy Technology, Dow Corning and Symmorphix Inc. Dow and UniSource Energy put in $5mm back in 2003, and also provided some coatings technology at that time.

Other fun news: An Irish microgenerator company, Steorn, put a big ad in The Economist this past week challenging "the world's scientists" to test their claims that they've developed a generator which achieves better than 100% efficiency. That's right, infinitely free power. [8/21 update: More on Steorn here]

This is not the first company to claim they have figured out a way around the laws of physics. Black Light Power announced they've taken in $50mm in investments earlier this year -- the company seems to be using a catalyst to entice the electrons in hydrogen atoms to drop to a lower energy state (even lower than the ground state...), in the process releasing photons, and they claim that the solution provides enough power to drive the electrolysis necessary to get the hydrogen in the first place with extra to spare (but... where does the catalyst come from?). The WSJ found (note: pdf) some knowledgeable people who took a look and came away impressed, sometimes writing checks.

And let's not forget Magnetic Power (and others) and their zero point energy efforts, as well as FuPower's magnet-based technology for which they claim "government laboratory testers comment on their report that no existing physics theory can explain this extraordinary energy-producing phenomenon." (But their website appears to be down, so this link is to a Google cached page) (Some other description is available here, just scroll down.)

Readers are invited to submit other companies that they feel would help fill out the competitor set...

Hycrete, Kergy and other news

Rob Day: August 17, 2006, 3:46 PM
  • Hycrete, which provides waterproofing and anti-corrosion materials for concrete, announced a Series B financing (amount undisclosed) by NGEN and Rockport. The company's additives can eliminate the need for membranes and other materials in construction, as well as providing other benefits such as extending structural lifetime, etc. Notably, green architect (and "cradle to cradle" proponent) Bill McDonough is an advisor to the company. This also seems like a useful excuse to point out this article on green buildings in NYC.
Some other news and notices:
  • And in news of cleantech efforts outside of the Bay Area, Tyler Hamilton had this useful article about the rapid rise of cleantech investing up in Canada. You can also see his blog post about it here.
Other notes: Given the overlaps between nanotech and cleantech (here's yet another example), it's useful to note that overall investments in nanotech seem to have declined 39% in the first half of the year.... Add another VC to the cleantech investor list: DCM's Hurst Lin says they're looking to invest in "traditional industries" (including clean energy technologies) in China... "There's a lot of vibration in this space."... The solar consolidation trend continues -- this time it's a financial group moving downstream into installation services, interestingly... Treehugger interviews Joel Makower... Lastly, solar panels and wind power are "urgently requested" to save lives: the US Army wants more renewable energy systems in Iraq. At $100/gallon, it makes sense, and it's yet another validation that these clean energy technologies are accepted and ready for prime time.

SensorTran, Plextronics, and REG

Rob Day: August 15, 2006, 9:54 AM
  • (self-promotion alert) Fiber optic sensor developer SensorTran announced a $5.5mm Series B round of financing, led by Expansion Capital Partners and including participation by WHEB Ventures and Stonehenge Capital. There was a good description of the company's technology and products, as well as some of the applications it can address, in this story from last thursday (note: access may req. free registration). Suffice to say, recent news headlines in energy infrastructure (examples here and here) have certainly highlighted some of the potential uses of SensorTran's technology. Sensors and monitoring systems remain a key enabler for a broad range of cleantech applications, and SensorTran's distributed sensing technology is yet another great example.
  • Plextronics, which has advanced technology for printed electronics, announced a $13.1mm Series A financing, led by Birchmere Ventures, and including participation by Firelake Capital, Draper Triangle Ventures, and other new and existing investors. The company's technology has a number of cleantech applications, but one which will certainly catch cleantech investors' attention is the potential use in manufacturing large-area solar cells, which the company claims can achieve costs of $1/Wp.
  • The biofuels march continues with a $100mm Series A financing of Renewable Energy Group (REG). It's unclear from the press release if the $100mm funding was entirely in Series A preferred, or if some portion was in other forms of financing, but either way it's a very large transaction. NGP Energy Technology Partners led the Series A, which also included strategic investors Bunge North America and ED&F Man Holdings Ltd. Natural Gas Partners VIII, L.P., the Sargents, West Central Cooperative, and other Iowa investors also participated in the financing. The financing will be used to build out REG's network of biodiesel production facilities, which they target at totaling 640m gpy by 2009.