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BASF Venture Capital invests in new energy generation technology


BASF Venture Capital America Inc., Fremont, CA, is investing $3 million in LUCA Technologies LLC, Golden, Colorado. LUCA develops biotechnology that uses microorganisms to reactivate or intensify the production of methane (natural gas) from finite fuels such as coal or oil.

LUCA, which was founded in 2001 and has currently about 30 employees, employs genomics, molecular biology and other tools of biotechnology to detect, classify and study microorganisms - those that live without oxygen - that metabolize oil, shale and coal within the earth into natural gas. These methane production sites underground are described as “GeobioreactorsTM” by LUCA. The company wants to develop such Geobioreactors into massproduction methane farms, which will serve growing demand for this form of energy.

“We are excited that a leading international chemical company with the stature of BASF shares our vision of this future technology,” said Robert Pfeiffer, President and CEO of LUCA Technologies. “The new strategic partnership will accelerate product development to help meet the growing demands of a $150 billion United States domestic natural gas market.”

LUCA will use proceeds from the financing round to continue its research and development activities in the laboratory, and to support testing of the technology in coal beds either on its own or through partnerships with energy companies.

“LUCA’s technology fits well with BASF’s research activities in the fields of industrial biotechnology and energy management – two of our five growth clusters. In its research, BASF concentrates major technology-driven issues of particular relevance to the future in five growth clusters,” said Keith Gillard, Principal at BASF Venture Capital America.

In the white (industrial) biotechnology cluster, BASF is putting to work its wide-ranging expertise in enzyme catalysis and the fermentative production of amino acids and vitamins to generate new products and processes outside the existing main areas of interest of fine chemicals and intermediates. While in energy management, BASF’s research scientists, for example, are working on new materials for organic solar cells, innovative storage media for hydrogen and the membrane electrode assembly of small portable fuel cells. The three other growth clusters are raw material change, nanotechnology and plant biotechnology.

Further information about LUCA Technologies is available on

BASF Venture Capital GmbH was established in 2001 as a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF Future Business GmbH, Ludwigshafen, Germany, and participates in startup companies and funds by providing venture capital to open up new growth potentials. In doing so, it focuses on companies with innovative business models and technologies in which chemistry is an important key to success. Investment is channeled toward companies that can demonstrate successful applications for their product developments as well as market demand. BASF also supports these companies with its expertise.


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