SGB Inc., an agricultural biotechnology and seed company said Tuesday that it has been successful in its program to create hybrid jatropha, a biofuel plant, which has both high yield and rapid time to maturity. In conjunction with these results, the company has closed an $11 million Series C financing to drive commercial rollout.
With its latest generation of Jatropha hybrids, the San Diego, California, firm said it has reduced the time to maturity from 5 years to 1 to 2 years. Based on 100 acres of pre-commercial trials of its top 10 hybrids, SGB’s best performing hybrid to date eclipsed an equivalent of 300 gallons of oil per acre in year one with a corresponding protein production of 0.6 metric tons, surpassing protein yield of soybean by more than 30 percent.
Total yield also includes 20 metric tons of green biomass per acre. A white paper released today and authored by Bob Schmidt, SGB’s chief scientist outlines how SGB has accomplished the domestication of a new crop species.
The $11 million financing is led by SGB’s current investors, including Flint Hills Resources, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.
The money will be used for commercial partnerships and project deployments focused on Central America, India and Southeast Asia, and to further advance genetic improvement, and agronomic best practices to maximize the full potential of the crop, the firm said.
There are jatropha plantations in Costa Rica.
“The yield from our hybrids are stunning, and SGB’s investors clearly recognize the significant opportunity arising from having the first new proven crop for protein and oil since canola was developed in the 1970s,” said Arama Kukutai, executive chairman of SGB. “Our scientific and breeding teams have cracked the code and the technology is now ready for full-scale commercial deployment of jatropha. This financing underscores that jatropha has risen from the ashes and will be a major plantation crop and viable alternative to palm and soybean as a sustainable source of oil and protein.”
SGB’s hybrids have been developed following six years of research and close to $40 million of investment, drawing from a diverse germplasm library including more than 12,000 unique genotypes, the firm said..