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Flagship Ventures partners with Red Rock Biofuels for $200m biomass refinery

Red Rock uses forest and sawmill waste biomass to produce fuels that compete with crude oil-based fuels.

Flagship Ventures is partnering Red Rock Biofuels in time to break ground for Red Rock’s first commercial-scale refinery.

Red Rock, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, takes waste biomass from forests and sawmills, and using a proprietary process, transforms it into domestically-produced jet, diesel and naphtha fuels that are cost-competitive with crude oil-based fuels.

Venture capital and venture creation firm Flagship Ventures, which focuses on innovations in healthcare and sustainability, will invest an undisclosed amount in Red Rock, assume a seat on the board of directors, and serve as a strategic advisor for future fundraising efforts.

“We formed Red Rock Biofuels in response to widespread and devastating wildfires in the Western US and the rising demand for drop-in, cost-competitive renewable jet and diesel fuels,” said Red Rock Biofuels co-founder and chief executive officer, Terry Kulesa. “By removing and repurposing the excess biomass that fuels destructive forest fires, we see great potential in the ‘waste to value’ sector, creating cleaner fuels, healthier forests and delivering sustainable biofuels.”

Last year, Red Rock secured a $70 million Defence Production Act Title III award from the US Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy to help build its $200 million refinery in Lakeview, Oregon. The refinery, slated to begin construction this summer, will convert 140,000 dry tons of woody biomass into 15 million gallons per year of liquid transportation fuels. In 2014, Southwest Airlines also agreed to purchase 3 million gallons per year of Red Rock’s jet fuel.

Red Rock expects to continue expanding its team, partnership networks and number of refineries in 2015.