SG Biofuels Inc., backed by Airbus SAS, is talking to large energy companies including state oil producers in Africa and Southeast Asia over helping to develop its technology that turns plant material into vehicle fuels.
The company is speaking to potential partners that want to mix biofuel with diesel or jet fuel as it plans to grow into new markets, Chief Executive Officer Kirk Haney said in a telephone interview. It’s also talking to developers with experience in building and scaling up large agricultural projects, he said.
The San Diego-based company is studying how to extract the most oil from the inedible jatropha, a plant native to Central America that can be grown on poor land. Its seeds are crushed to make oil for biodiesel, jet fuel and specialty chemicals.
The company is already working with Bharat Petroleum Corp. of India to grow 86,000 acres of jatropha and is planting 75,000 acres in Brazil with Airbus, the Inter-American Development Bank and TAM SA, Brazil’s largest airline. It will probably raise capital from private investors next year to fund growth in areas including Southeast Asia, China and Africa, Haney said.
“We’d love to find a good partner in Europe to help us penetrate that market,” he said. SG Biofuels is in the “very early” stages of speaking to carriers. Deutsche Lufthansa AG is among airlines that have shown interest in jatropha, Haney said.
Lufthansa last year became the first carrier in the world to offer scheduled flights running on biofuel. The airline on Sept. 19 agreed to work with Algae.Tec Ltd. to build a factory in Europe to turn algae into aviation biofuel.