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Editorial: Good science makes another run at the market thanks to Qteros

Earlier this year, promising biofuels startup Qteros – a company that had its origins in research done at the University of Massachusetts – faced a major setback when investment capital dried up.

Without adequate funding, Qteros was forced to close a fermentation facility in Chicopee – and with it, the promise of new jobs. Qteros, was created to market the potential of the “Q Microbe,” discovered by a team of UMass researchers led by microbiologist Susan B. Leschine. The microbe, found in the early 1900s around the Quabbin Reservoir, has the ability to digest plant waste into ethanol fuel.

A great discovery, but developing markets for a new technology can be painstakingly slow.

Still, good science is good science and just a little more than six months later, Qteros is making a comeback. more

Reborn Qteros rises again with new plan to develop technology to make ethanol

The Republican

By Jim Kinney

Qteros and the “Q microbe” discovered byUMass researchers and valued for its ability to digest plant waste into ethanol fuel is making a comeback.

Qteros was formed to develop the “Q microbe” discovered by University of Massachusetts Amherst microbiologist Susan B. Leschine and her team in soil of the Quabbin Reservoir.

Qteros, once known as Sun Ethanol, raised $52 million in start-up money including investments from Soros Fund Management LLC, Valero Energy Corp. and BP. But the money dried up early in 2012. In September, creditors auctioned Qteros’ pilot production facility in Chicopee. The equipment was broken up and removed.

“It broke my heart because I built that plant,” said Stephan Rogers of Amherst, an official with old Qteros and the CEO of the new company that has purchased the technology and name from the creditors of the old company. “I believe this technology is sound and they simply had a financing problem,” he said. more

What’s Holding Biofuels Back?

Technology Review

By Kevin Bullis

Startups say reduced mandates for oil companies make it difficult to finance biorefineries.

The already dismal outlook for cellulosic biofuels–a type of fuel made from sources such as grass and wood chips–just got worse. For the second year in a row, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will drastically cut the amount of cellulosic biofuels that oil companies are required to blend into their fuel stocks under its Renewable Fuels Standard. This year’s mandate was supposed to be 100 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels, but that was reduced to 6.5 million. Last month, the EPA announced that it would lower the requirement in 2011, from 250 million to somewhere between five million and 17.1 million gallons.

The EPA is doing this because not enough cellulosic biofuel is being produced to meet the targets. So far, no commercial plants have been built–just some small pilot and demonstration-scale plants. more

Ethanol Future Looking for More Fuel

National Geographic

By Marianne Lavelle for
National Geographic News

By now, well into the 21st century, at least some U.S. cars were supposed to be running on an exciting new power source—clean fuels refined from corn husks, timber waste and tall, fast-growing grasses.

But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, acknowledging that not a single facility is yet producing this advanced “cellulosic” ethanol, has proposed dramatically scaling back a federal program to promote the fuel for the second straight year.

Instead of requiring that the oil industry blend 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the gasoline sold at the pump next year, as Congress envisioned under the Renewable Fuels Standard program, the EPA said July 12 that it intends to cut the 2011 mandate to 5 million gallons. That’s the same level of cellulosic ethanol the EPA required this year, even though Congress had originally set a 2010 goal of 100 million gallons. more

2010 “Transformative Technologies 30″ announced by Biofuels Digest

biofuels digest

In Florida, Biofuels Digest announced the winners of its “30 Most Transformative Technologies of 2010″ poll. The publication’s readers submitted more than 48,000 votes from 3,500 ballots during the three-week voting process.

The readers chose between transformative bioenergy technologies at more than 250 companies, universities and national laboratories, including 100 organizations that received write-in votes. more

Portrait of a Transformative Technology: Qteros and its Q Microbe

biofuels digest

In Massachusetts, Qteros has been gaining heavy support in the Transformative Technologies poll – far more than you get from marshaling all the friends, Romans and countrymen associated with a 50-person, early-stage company in the business of consolidated bioprocessing. more

BIO 2010: the future of biofuel

Can the U.S. become energy independent? Steve Fast of WJBC in Chicago spoke with John McCarthy, CEO of Qteros at the BIO International Convention about the future of biofuels, the longevity of corn-based ethanol and where our gas will come from in the future.

» Listen to the interview

Qteros, UMass get biofuels patent

Boston Globe

By Erin Ailworth, Globe Staff

Qteros, Inc. in Marlborough and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have patented the fermentation method they use to make biofuel, a plant-based alternative to gasoline, using the so-called Q Microbe.

According to the company, the Q Microbe allows Qteros to streamline the process they use to breakdown plant material into sugars that can then be turned into ethanol, making that fuel easier and cheaper to produce. more

Dr. Susan Leschine, Qteros chief scientist, chosen as one of the “Top 25 Women in Tech to Watch”

Dr. Susan Leschine, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, professor whose research led to her cofound advanced-biofuels company Qteros, has been named one of the Top 25 Women in Tech by media trendsetter AlwaysOn.

Those named to the first-annual list were chosen for overall innovation, ability to identify new market opportunities, and creation of stakeholder value, among other criteria.


A decade ago, Dr. Leschine came across a unique anaerobic microbe, now known as the Q Microbe™, near the Quabbin Reservoir in western Massachusetts. Her discovery and subsequent research led to the founding of Qteros, which is using the microbe to make cellulosic ethanol quickly and cost effectively from plant waste. more

Qteros Named One of the Top 10 Private Companies to Watch

tech review

By TR Editors

Company: Qteros
Year founded: 2006
Funding Raised:$30 million

Uses a unique type of microbe to convert biomass into ethanol in one step, potentially replacing a multistep process that uses expensive enzymes to break down cellulose. more

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