Making biomass pay

Virent Energy Systems has raised $7.5 million in a round of private venture financing led by Cargill Ventures. The cash will be used to commercialise the company’s Aqueous Phase Reforming process.


Madison, Wisconsin-based Virent Energy Systems has raised $7.5 million in a round of private venture financing led by Cargill Ventures. The cash will be used to commercialise the company’s Aqueous Phase Reforming (APR) process.



The APR process itself produces both gas and liquid fuels, as well as high value chemicals, from a range of renewable oxygenated compounds, such as biomass-derived glycerol, sugars and sugar-alcohols. The APR system generates all of these in a single step reactor process.



The company claims that it can deliver twice the efficiency of the ethanol process, which requires significant heat for a process step known as dewatering.



Virent was founded in 2002 by Dr. Randy Cortright and Dr. Jim Dumesic from the University of Wisconsin and already has received nearly $4.5 million in grants from the Department of Energy and National Institute of Standards and Technology.



In January this year, the company started up a demonstration system that was purchased by Madison, Gas & Electric (MGE).



The MGE system integrated the Virent APR System with a hydrogen/natural gas fuelled generator set provided by City Engines (Reno, Nevada). The system has demonstrated the ability to deliver a minimum of 10kW of environmentally friendly power to the MGE grid.