2008-05-09 19:05 (New York)
By Khaleeq Ahmed
May 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Venture Partners will invest about $100 million in new technologies over the next 3 1/2 years that could make clean energy cheaper and household water easier to reuse.
The Menlo Park, California-based venture capital company will invest about 16 percent of a $600 million fund in so-called clean technology, Mamoon Hamid, an associate at U.S. Venture Partners, said in an interview.
``The cost of power generation and storage is coming down because smarter people are coming into the field'' and alternative technologies are gaining strength, he said. Specifically, USVP is investing in solid acid-based fuel cell technology to make fuel-cell systems less expensive, Hamid said.
Fuel cells, first developed in Germany in the 1800s, typically push charged particles through a membrane in an electrochemical process that produces power, water and oxygen.
Solid acid-based fuel cells can operate at much higher temperatures, so they could be used in cars without auxiliary systems to keep them cool, and are less expensive to produce because they don't require catalysts made of platinum, according to the Web site of Superprotonic, a Pasadena, California-based company developing the solid acid fuel cells for commercial use.
Though California state regulators are drafting rules to reduce emissions that could boost ``green'' technology, USVP is investing in technologies that could survive without any subsidies, Hamid said.
Separately, 75 percent of household water needs in the U.S. could be met through recycling and processing of used water, Hamid said. USVP is investing in water purification technology
that removes harmful bacteria and pathogens from the 70 percent of household water that can be reused, he said.
Investment by venture capital firms in clean technology companies in North America and Europe more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2007 from a year earlier, according to Cleantech Investment Monitor.
North American investment was $1.23 billion in the fourth quarter, twice as much as the $534 million invested a year earlier, according to Cleantech.
USVP, which has invested more than $1.8 billion in 350 companies since it was set up in 1981, typically invests in early-stage companies for three to seven years.
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--Editors: Elizabeth Wollman, Nicholas Turner
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TNRG#<889158.4653918.104.22.168.19524.25>#-0- May/09/2008 23:05 GMT