Renmatix Getting Commitment From Total in Renewed Biofuels Push

(Bloomberg) — Renmatix Inc. has formed a development
partnership with Total SA to pursue plant-based fuels, using its
technology for producing industrial sugars from cellulosic
biomass.

Total is making an undisclosed financial commitment and
will have a position on Renmatix’s board, according to a
statement Tuesday. The agreement also includes terms for future
commercial licenses of Renmatix’s technology.

The company struck a similar deal in December 2013 with
BASF SE, the world’s largest chemical maker, which also was
interested in Renmatix’s Plantrose process that reduces the
costs of sugar production. The commitment from Total, part of a
Series D funding round that may reach $75 million, shows that at
least one major energy company still believes in biofuels, said
Mike Hamilton, Renmatix’s chief executive officer.

“Total is signaling that the renewable-fuels market is an
attractive place to be,” Hamilton said in a telephone
interview. “It further validates the potential for our
technology on the fuel side, where as prior we’ve been more
focused with our partners on the biochemical side.”

Renmatix’s technology converts wood, straw, agricultural
waste and other non-food biomass into sugars for use in biofuels
and chemical products. Producing fuel from plants has been
criticized as inefficient and expensive, and companies including
Vinod Khosla-backed Kior Inc., which filed for bankruptcy, have
struggled to produce sufficient quantities to be profitable.

Total’s investment “underlines our commitment to develop
sustainable biomolecules that deliver higher performance or new
functionalities for fuels, lubricants, special fluids and
chemicals,” Bernard Clement, senior vice president of Total New
Energies, said in the statement.

Existing investors BASF and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield &
Byers also are participating in the Series D round. King of
Prussia, Pennsylvania-based Renmatix raised about $100 million
through its first three fundings, including $30 million from
BASF.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Justin Doom in New York at
jdoom1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net
Will Wade, Robin Saponar

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