XFuel hopes to overcome biofuel’s troubled past with modular reactor design

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Biofuels are sirens of renewable energy, luring startups with the bewitching promise of huge markets, from aviation to freight and shipping. Companies just can’t resist tackling the problem, and many have crashed in the process.

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One new startup, though, hopes to be the Ulysses of the story, able to sail past rocky shores that have sunk more than several of its predecessors.

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XFuel has high hopes for a modular refinery design that it says can produce fuel to replace marine vessels and diesel vehicles with a carbon footprint that is 85% lower now and possibly carbon neutral in the future.

The Dublin-based startup today announced an €8.2 million investment round led by AENU, a new German venture capital firm joined by Union Square Ventures and HAX/SOSV.

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XFuel currently manufactures marine and diesel fuels and develops aviation fuels.

“This is a direct replacement for fossil counterparts,” said co-founder and CEO Nicholas Ball. “The main focus here was on developing technology to produce fuel at a comparable or lower cost than fossil fuels. We have been on this path of research and development for several years, a lot of trial and error work.”

The result, he says, is a demonstration plant in Spain that “proves that we have the technology and the modularity that we’re trying to bring here.”

The heart of XFuel’s work revolves around what the company calls mechanical catalytic conversion, which takes plant material and uses heat, chemicals and friction to help break it down. (The ball, when hit, won’t be more specific than that.)


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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