Amyris Raises Additional US$ 70 Million for Micriobial Biofuels Production

Amyris Biotechnologies today announced the first portion of their B round financing for US$ 70 million.  This brings the total company financing for microbial production of biofuels to just under US$ 100 million in the last year.  The press release also notes Amyris already has bugs in the lab producing "bio-jet", "bio-diesel", and "bio-gasoline".  The latter is interesting because previous announcements had suggested butanol as a target product rather than a hydrocarbon.  Immiscible hydrocarbons will be much easier (read "less expensive") to separate from the fermentation broth than water soluble alcohols.

In any event, the company is clearly moving faster than even my earlier optimistic estimates (see "The Need for Fuels Produced Using Synthetic Biology").  While the speed of engineering efforts is still an issue (see "The Intersection of Biofuels and Synthetic Biology"), and will be for some time to come, I have been spending more time lately trying to understand the issue of scale.  The petroleum industry is absolutely enormous, and replacing any significant amount of petro-fuels with bio-fuels will require feedstocks in abundance.  It is by no means clear that the U.S. can meet the demand with domestic biomass production.  More on this as the topic develops.