US-based Siluria Technologies has raised the money needed to establish a demonstration unit for preparing ethylene from natural gas, instead of oil.
The company has successfully raised US$ 30 million in a round led by Russia-based Bright Capital and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital. Besides, existing venture capital investors like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, also contributed. In all the company raised US$ 63.3 million.
Siluria has evolved a technique for transforming methane, the key component of natural gas, into ethylene, a common industrial chemical, which is normally derived from oil.
Deviating from the usual trend, where refiners “crack” petroleum with heat to generate ethylene, a smaller chain hydrocarbon, Siluria uses catalysts to chemically combine two methane molecules to produce ethylene. The process developed by Siluria can operate at much lower temperatures and consumes much less energy compared to traditional steam cracking.
The new technique evolved in the lab of Angela Belcher, a materials scientist and biological engineer at MIT. Ms. Belcher’s research aims at producing the desired products by imitating natural processes.
Siluria uses a catalyst-screening and discovery process where a virus is used as a template for creating nanowire catalysts. The technique allows the company to refine the catalysts and widen its library, which according to the Siluria provides it an edge over several other techniques that aim at preparing ethylene from methane.
According to the company, the funds raised would allow it to set up a demonstration plant by 2013, which would help it to perfect the process.
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India