Ciris Energy, Inc., a Cenetennial, Colorado energy startup, raised a series B investment of $23.9 million a recent SEC-filing revealed. Khosla Ventures led the round with earlier Ciris backers Braemar Energy Ventures, Rho Ventures and GE Energy Financial Services, the companies announced Monday.
Ciris Energy aims to produce natural gas from coal in a way that is more environmentally responsible and economically efficient than other methods of producing natural gas. It also aims to turn coal into a far less dangerous and polluting energy resource than it is today.
According to a feature story by James Fallows in The Atlantic:
“Mining coal is notoriously dangerous, the remnants of mines disfigure the Earth, and the by-products of coal’s combustion fill the air not simply with soot, smoke, and carbon dioxide but also with toxic heavy metals like mercury and lead, plus corrosive oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, among other pollutants…
Overall, coal-burning power plants provide nearly half (about 46 percent this year) of the electricity consumed in the United States. For the record: natural gas supplies another 23 percent, nuclear power about 20 percent, hydroelectric power about 7 percent, and everything else the remaining 4 or 5 percent.”
With its new-found capital, Ciris specificially plans to build its first commercial-scale projects for “in-situ biochemical conversion of coal to methane,” and to bring its “ex-situ biochemical coal conversion technology to commercial-ready status,” the company said in a press statement.