Valero continues to position itself as a growing player in the ethanol industry through its investment in Qteros (formerly SunEthanol), a Massachusetts based company who owns the Q Microbe(TM) technology which turns biomass into ethanol. The investment was established through its acquisition of certain assets of Verasun Energy. Valero purchased several Verasun Energy plants this past April.
Qteros, has developed a proprietary technology known as “C3” (Complete Cellulosic Conversion), using the naturally occurring Q Microbe(TM). First discovered in Western Massachusetts by Qteros Founder and Chief Scientist Dr. Susan Leschine, the Q Microbe(TM) has the unique ability to transform virtually any cellulosic material into ethanol in a single step, avoiding the usual two-step process in which expensive enzymes are used to break down the biomass before it can be fermented.
In a company statement released today, Qteros’ CEO Bill Frey said, “Investment from established energy companies like Valero enables us to continue developing and scaling-up our technology. Qteros is moving ahead with our plans to open a pilot plant this year, as we continue preparations to expand to commercial scale production.” Frey was the former head of Dupont’s biofuels division.
In addition to the Valero investment, the company recently received $2 million in U.S. government appropriations towards a pilot plant it plans to open this summer in Springfield, Mass. This is one of several grants they have received from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company has also received funding from Venrock, Battery Ventures, BP, and Soros Fund Management.