Flagship Ventures invests in Red Rock Biofuels

By Red Rock Biofuels LLC | March 17, 2015

Red Rock Biofuels LLC, a pioneer in renewable biofuels, has unveiled a strategic partnership with Flagship Ventures that sets the stage for the construction of its first commercial scale refinery in Lakeview, Oregon. As part of this partnership, Flagship Ventures, a leading venture capital and venture creation firm focused on innovations in healthcare and sustainability, will invest in Red Rock, assume a seat on the board of directors and serve as a strategic advisor for future fundraising efforts.

Red Rock takes waste biomass from forests and sawmills, and using a proprietary process, transforms it into domestically produced jet, diesel and naphtha fuels. The company’s process begins with the gasification of woody biomass to produce syngas, which is then cleaned and sent to a Fischer-Tropsch unit where it is converted to a high grade, renewable syncrude. Finally, standard upgrading refines the syncrude to yield renewable jet, diesel and naphtha fuels which provide a lower carbon, cost competitive alternative to crude oil-based fuels.

Flagship will provide financial and strategic expertise as Red Rock moves toward construction of a commercial-scale refinery and secures additional partnerships, funding and customers. Flagship partner Brian Baynes, led the investment and will join Red Rock’s board of directors. By combining Flagship’s world-class industry knowledge and strategic reach with Red Rock’s leading technology and operational depth to deliver domestically produced renewable fuel from woody biomass, the company is poised for significant growth in this rapidly expanding market.

“With its innovative technology and strong team, Red Rock has created a market-leading position in the woody biomass conversion sector,” said Baynes. “Their product saves money for customers and offers a stable alternative to the volatile crude oil market, while reducing carbon emissions – a growing priority for companies. We expect increasing demand for renewable fuels and we are excited to support Red Rock as they bring high quality, domestically produced biofuels to market."

Last year was pivotal for Red Rock’s move to commercial-scale production. The company received a $70 million DPA Title III award from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy to help build its $200 million refinery. The refinery, slated to begin construction this summer, will convert approximately 140,000 dry tons of woody biomass into 15 million gallons per year of renewable, liquid transportation fuels. Also in 2014, Southwest Airlines agreed to purchase approximately 3 million gallons per year of Red Rock’s low carbon, renewable jet fuel.

“We formed Red Rock Biofuels in response to widespread and devastating wildfires in the Western U.S. and the rising demand for drop-in, cost competitive renewable jet and diesel fuels,” said Terry Kulesa, cofounder and CEO of Red Rock Biofuels. "By removing and repurposing the excess biomass that fuels destructive forest fires, we see great potential in the 'waste to value' sector, creating cleaner fuels, healthier forests and delivering sustainable biofuels. Now, with support from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy, as well as strong commercial partners like Southwest Airlines, we are thrilled to partner with a world-class sustainability investor like Flagship. We look forward to accelerating our ability to transform waste biomass into domestically produced, cost competitive biofuels at commercial scale."

 Throughout 2015, Red Rock expects to continue expanding both its team and geographic footprint through additional refineries as renewable fuels continue to be a major focus worldwide. In the coming months, Red Rock will break ground on its first refinery and continue its search for additional facility sites while expanding customer relationships and partnership networks to bring its domestically produced biomass fuels to new markets.