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Sapphire Gets $144 Million for New Mexico Algae-Based Fuel Plant

Andrew Herndon, Bloomberg

 Sapphire Energy Inc., which produces crude oil from algae, received $144 million from investors to build a demonstration plant in New Mexico.

The plant in Luna County has received a $50 million grant from the U.S. Energy Department and a $54.4 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Agriculture Department, closely held Sapphire said today in a statement.

Sapphire grows algae that’s refined into diesel and jet fuel.

Participants in the San Diego-based company’s Series C financing round include the private equity company Arrowpoint Partners and Monsanto Co. (MON), which agreed in March 2011 to back Sapphire as part of an effort to identify genes that stimulate algae growth.

Investors in the company’s Series B financing round joined the new funding, Sapphire said, including Arch Venture Partners LP, Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment LLC, the London-based charity Wellcome Trust Ltd. and Venrock Associates, the venture capital company of the Rockefeller family.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at aherndon2@bloomberg.net

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