Seaweed Biofuel Maker, Bio Architecture Lab, Snags Partnership With Norway’s Statoil
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its seaweed is particularly rich in sugar content, and Statoil has so much experience with the terrain because of its offshore oil drilling. But when asked about access to seaweed biomass supplies, and the necessary permits, Trunfio said that question will come later in the partnership and will be handled by Statoil, not the startup.
The process Bio Architecture Lab plans to test in Norway is the same one it has been honing over the past year in Chile, Trunfio says. And the partnership will enable Bio Architecture, with a little more than 30 employees today, to almost double its staff by the end of the year, Trunfio says.
Anyone serious about making renewable biofuels has to be ready to spend years of effort, and many millions of dollars on the tricky process of making fuel at large enough scales to really make a dent in an enormous market like fuels.
With his two-decade background in the oil industry, this wasn’t news to Trunfio. So he was intent on making sure Bio Architecture Lab found partners with the money and manpower to help the company make that big leap from laboratory to commercial scale. While Statoil isn’t as well known in the U.S. as, say, Exxon Mobil, it is a “perfect” partner for a seaweed biofuel company because of its experience in offshore oil drilling, Trunfio says.
“We’re a perfect fit for each other,” Trunfio says. “We are a startup, we have great technology. They like the technology, it fits with their core competency, and they have a balance sheet that we don’t. It’s a platform for us to commercialize.”