Electrochaea’s raises Series A to turn electricity to gas using microorganisms

Electrochaea’s raises Series A to turn electricity to gas using microorganisms

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Electrochaea, which uses a biological process to convert low-cost and stranded electricity into pipeline-grade renewable case has raised  ‘several million euro’ in their Series A according to their press release. The international syndicate includes Munich Ventures (Germany), b-to-v (Berlin), Caliza Holdings (Switzerland), Focus First (St Louis), KfW (Germany), and Sirius Venture Partners (Germany).

Power-to-gas is a solution for storing large amounts of renewable energy from wind and solar. Electrochaea is developing a system for converting renewable energy first to hydrogen and then to methane, the principal component of natural gas, for direct injection into the existing natural gas grid. Once in the grid, the gas can be stored for an indefinite period of time and used for power production, in heating applications, or in transportation. It can also be transported geographically to demand centers via existing gas pipelines in order to alleviate power grid congestion. Electrochaea’s core focus is in the development of a system that uses a novel biocatalytic process for the conversion of hydrogen and carbon dioxide to methane using a selectively evolved microorganism. The company claims that the biocatalyst has many technical advantages that translate to lower capital and operating costs compared to conventional systems.

“Power-to-gas is the only technology that can both store energy and distribute the energy carrier without further congesting the power grid. Electrochaea’s biological methanation technology outcompetes conventional methods in terms of  economics and dynamic operation. The management team’s technical expertise and consistent focus on market needs convinced us of the investment opportunity presented by Electrochaea” said Dr. Martin Kröner, Managing Partner at Munich Venture Partners.

Christian Schütz, Partner at b-to-v, adds, “We are convinced that power-to-gas technologies will play an increasingly important role in storing excess electricity produced in a decentralized energy system. We see Electrochaea as the clear leader within the universe of biological methanation technologies. The team is highly market-driven, and their ability to bring together experienced investors to form a consortium is testament to their business acumen.”

The company reports that the funds will be used to grow the international team at the new headquarters in Munich, to pursue intellectual property, and to provide equity capital to the technology demonstration project BioCat in Copenhagen (Denmark). The goal of the BioCat Project is to demonstrate Electrochaea’s technology at commercial scale. The project consortium includes Audi (Germany), Hydrogenics (Belgium), HMN Gashandel, NEAS Energy, BIOFOS and Insero Business Services (all Denmark). The company plans to  enter the market with a commercial product by 2016.

Electrochaea was founded in 2010 by U.S. based investment firm Focus First as a spin-out from the University of Chicago and was named in the 2014 Global Cleantech 100. As part of the deal the company will be relocating its headquarters to Munich Germany.

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