In its $9.4 million first-round financing, SG Biofuels has attracted the backing of a subsidiary of Koch Industries – the first time the oil and agriculture conglomerate has invested in biofuels. SG Biofuels makes fuel from the inedible seed of the jatropha plant (pictured). Oils produced from jatropha could be made for less than $1 a gallon, Earth2Tech reports.

Toyota will launch six new hybrids by 2012, the company announced via Twitter. One of them will be a plug-in Prius. The other will be a Rav4-EV, set to debut in November at the Los Angeles auto show – the automaker partnered with electric car startup Tesla to develop the SUV. The collaboration could bode well for Toyota’s foothold in the electric vehicle market, All Cars Electric predicted: “With Toyota’s ability to mass produce vehicles and Tesla’s engineering excellence in battery pack design, this strange love-child will be a must-drive car.”

Biofuel start-up Joule has earned a patent for its cyanobacteria – a type of blue-green algae – that can convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into liquid hydrocarbons, which in turn can replace diesel fuel. The company claims to be the only biofuel player to produce biofuel with a single-step process (instead of intermediaries like sugar or algal mass). It will begin pilot production of diesel in its Texas facilities this year.

The GE ecomagination challenge, a contest in which GE and venture capital firms have offered $200 million to winning cleantech business ideas, has attracted 2,400 entries since July. The renewable energy generation category has garnered the most entries of startup hopefuls. The contest is backed with funds from GE, RockPort Capital, KPCB, Foundation Capital and Emerald Technology.