A technology called the “Biomass Catalytic Cracking Process” could be the key to breaking material like wood, grass and corn husks down for ethanol production.

Catalytic cracking is a process already used in today’s petroleum refineries. Simply put, chemicals are used to break down complex organic molecules. The trick is making the reactions between specific chemicals and molecules efficient and controllable, in order to come up with a desirable product like cellulosic ethanol.

The biofuels industry is highly interested in that type of ethanol, but the process of “cracking” the molecular structures of woody plants, whether with chemicals, heat or other methods, has not yet become cost-effective. KiOR is Khosla Ventures’ and BIOeCON’s bet on commercializing a process.

Khosla Ventures provided the new company’s seed funding, but the amount was not disclosed. BIOeCON’s investment is its intellectual property, which includes the catalytic cracking process.