Converting Methane into Valuable Chemicals, Plastics, Fuels (With Video)

With $20 million in new funding in place, Siluria Technologies is ready to take its proven innovations in methane conversion beyond the lab, converting one of the world's most abundant resources into valuable chemicals, plastics and fuels. 
Siluria is the first and only company to develop an economically advantageous, methane-based alternative for producing fuels and chemicals normally derived from oil. Not only does the platform use an abundant, widely available resource, it requires less energy and aggressively reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from the petrochemical industry.
"Fuel and chemical leaders face an imperative to drive cost and energy waste from operations. Any alternative to established processes, however, must be low risk and deliver clear, immediate benefit," said Dr. Alex Tkachenko, president of Siluria. "Siluria's technology, which is compatible with the existing industry infrastructure, offers significant cost advantages over conventionally produced fuels and chemicals, with the scalability required to transform the multi-trillion dollar oil-complex. The immediate economic potential of Siluria's process paired with the opportunity to transform several large existing industries is what attracted the Wellcome Trust to the company."
Rather than taking the complex mixture of hydrocarbons in oil and breaking it down into usable products, Siluria's process makes use of cutting-edge technology to build the simplest hydrocarbon, methane, into these materials.
"On short order Siluria solved a decades-old challenge--the direct conversion of methane to high-value products," said Dr. Leighton Read, Siluria board chairman and partner at Alloy Ventures. "Siluria, with its masterful combination of nanomaterial science, biotechnology, and chemical engineering, is opening an oil-free path to fuels and chemicals using methane, nature's most abundant resource."
Found in natural gas and made from renewable biomass, methane is globally plentiful and the richest domestic resource in the United States. The use of methane for fuel and chemical production presents significant new market possibilities for natural gas providers.
"There is no faster way to drive better economics on a global scale for the enormous manufacturing and transportation supply chain than by harnessing methane for the direct production of big-market products," said Clinton Bybee, managing director at ARCH Venture Partners. "At ARCH we know what it takes to commercialize and scale materials innovation, which is why we're behind Siluria. This company is beating a fast path to valuable commodity fuel and chemicals from a growing natural resource, and will create thousands of jobs in the process."
At the same time, the abundance of methane will provide an affordable option for companies that depend on hydrocarbons to manufacture and transport goods.
"KPCB's investment in Siluria was based on the company's clear and rapid path to commercialization," said Dr. Bill Joy, a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "The company turns an abundant resource into the same high-value products we use today, using the same industrial infrastructure but with better economics and energy efficiency. While the company's approach is unique, its products slot directly into the fuel and materials chain, providing much-needed relief for a constrained global economy."
While the opportunities for Siluria are global, the technology has important implications for U.S. competitiveness.
"Siluria's unique process of converting methane into fuels and chemicals is a potential revolution in chemicals and fuels--industries I served for three decades," said Mark Noetzel, advisor to Siluria and former senior executive with Amoco and BP. "Siluria's transformational technology has the potential to reposition natural gas-rich countries, like the United States, into cost-advantaged, energy-efficient manufacturing leaders."