Luca Technologies

Luca Technologies is developing a method to convert oil, organic-rich shale and coal resources to clean, renewable energy.

Location: 
Golden, CO
Type: 
VC-Funded Company
Category: 
Clean Products

LUCA Technologies is developing a novel, long-term, biotechnology-driven solution to rising U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources. Addressing the $150 billion domestic natural gas market, the company is leveraging the ability of naturally occurring microorganisms to convert under-utilized domestic oil, organic-rich shale and coal resources to clean, renewable energy.

The company's business is characterized by:

* A technology platform based on the discovery, characterization and management of naturally occurring consortia of ancient, anaerobic microorganisms (those that live without oxygen) that metabolize oil, organic-rich shale and coal within the earth into natural gas, thus generating clean renewable energy in a continuous, "real time" fashion. LUCA employs genomics, molecular biology and other tools of biotechnology to detect, classify and study these organisms and the underground "Geobioreactors" in which they act. Company scientists are also developing methods of managing specific consortia's gas production capabilities in situ for the large-scale production of natural gas and potentially, hydrogen.

* A growing library of coal seam, organic-rich shale and oil field cores from massive hydrocarbon accumulations, each with its own consortia of anaerobic microorganisms for study.

* A management team whose expertise combines a long track record of developing energy resources within the oil and gas industry with scientific expertise in molecular biology, microbiology and biochemistry and their application to renewable energy.

Domestic energy needs in the United States far outstrip today's readily accessible energy resources, which has forced an ever-increasing dependence on foreign fuels. At the same time, existing U.S. energy resources are significantly underutilized, in part due to the inefficiencies of even the most modern extraction methods employed today. LUCA is developing methods for optimizing the natural gas-producing activity of natural Geobioreactors it identifies, as well as methods of turning other energy resources - such as oil wells that are no longer actively producing - into efficiently functioning Geobioreactors. In doing so, LUCA believes it will open the door to the creation of a new industry with the potential to solve U.S. domestic energy needs long-term, as well as provide a cost-effective, reliable and renewable source of the cleanest burning hydrocarbon fuel.

LUCA is currently working to demonstrate the viability of its technology not only in the laboratory, but also in the real world. The company initially expects to provide consulting services to existing energy producers, helping them to evaluate their current oil, organic-rich shale and gas holdings for the presence of natural Geobioreactors or the potential for Geobioreactor stimulation. LUCA will then leverage the further in situ development of its technology in partnership with those oil and gas producers, and the company may also develop specific sites and Geobioreactor production programs on its own.

LUCA Technologies is a Kleiner-Perkins portfolio company.

Luca Technologies is one of the GoingGreen 2009 top 100 private companies.

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