Business

DEMO: With MicroFueler, one man's trash is his gas tank's treasure

E-Fuel is one of 70 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2010 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

In the renewable energy sector, customers face a variety of options, like solar and wind. Today at the DEMO conference, E-Fuel is launching a new clean-energy model that allows users to affordably convert their own organic waste into fuel and electricity.Consumers feed organic solids such as wood, paper, plants, and bread into E-Fuel’s MicroFueler module. The MicroFueler turns the trash into sugar in two minutes, with no residual waste. The sugar water is then fermented and converted into ethanol fuel.

The appeal of the Microfueler is that it costs less than some other renewable options. One version of the module sells for $10,000, and produces the same amount of uninterrupted power as a solar-panel system that costs $450,000, the company said.  It’s also not dependent on climate conditions, relying instead on a product every consumer or business produces: trash.

The fuel can be  made for as little as a dollar per gallon, requires little electricity to produce, and can be stored for several years, according to E-Fuel.

E-Fuel has run the MicroFueler beta program in homes in California, schools and food banks across the U.S. and at breweries in Vienna and Ireland. The company said all of its beta customers ordered several MicroFuelers, which started shipping earlier this year.

Microfueler was founded in 2008, and has 25 employees. It’s based in Paso Robles, Calif., and is founded by Tom Quinn, who invented and holds the patent for the motion-game controller used by the Nintendo Wii. Its management also includes Bruce Padula, former VP of sales at Novell.

What’s next for E-Fuel? So far, it has raised $5 million in its first round of fundraising, and also has raised $2.5 million in debt. The company plans to raise more capital to help meet a backlog of demand.

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