JULY 2009

CleanTech finds investors for sugar technology

Burrill & Company and Khosla Ventures have invested in HCL CleanTech, a United States company and its Israeli subsidiary founded by Avram Baniel, Ari Eyal and Eran Baniel. HCL CleanTech has developed a proprietary technology to make an old, industrially proven German process converting lignocellulosic biomass to fermentable sugars economically very attractive. It is these fermentable sugars which are considered the gateway to advanced biofuels (biobutanols, biodiesel, jet fuel etc) and biochemicals (bioplastics etc). Modern chemical technology makes the implementation straightforward and immediate.

HCL CleanTech’s use of concentrated hydrochloric acid (HCl) efficiently hydrolyzes all cellulosic materials and so allows a large variety of feedstocks to be used with minimal configuration, it requires very little water and is completely self sufficient energetically. This new technology can also clean and improve the recovery of the acid in other industrial streams containing dilute HCl.

“Accessing cheap sugar locked in biomass is one of the greatest challenges now faced by those pursuing renewable fuels and chemicals. HCL CleanTech’s technology represents a step change in accessing these sugars, and drops into the pretreatment step of any fermentation-based process or chemical reforming technique which starts with oligosaccharides,” said Burrill & Company director, Greg Young. “We are eager to see this proven at scale, at which point it becomes immediately relevant to adjacent industries aiming to use biomass as a feedstock.”

Burrill & Company and Khosla Ventures were joined in this Series A round of financing by Zohar Gilon, the lead seed investor, and the founders. The proceeds will serve to continue R&D in Israel and build a pilot plant in the States to be completed in 2010.