Biofuels have attracted quite a bit of attention over the past decade. The field started off very strong and showed a lot of potential, but as the production grew, many experts started questioning whether it is a good idea to trade food resources for fuel, diminishing the glory that the bio product once had. Now, a new startup, called Cool Planet, has taken up the task to prove to everyone that fuel can be carbon negative, without having to interfere with food production. It seems they are managing, especially since they successfully persuaded Google to be one of the primary investors in the venture.
The guys behind Cool Planet have quite a task in front of them, especially since EPA and the EU have recently tried to put biofuel production on hold. In order to differ from the many competitors, who have been making liquid biofuel from crop residue for years, the company opt for making biochar as well. This is essentially a fertilizer-like product, that when added to the soil, boosts agricultural yield and keeps carbon in the soil at the same time, limiting pollution, and stimulating food production.
However, biochar is not the only bullet the company has. Taking into account all the mistakes made by their ancestors, the guys from Cool Planet are planning to use only plants and residue from plants that are not in direct competition with food production, such as corn for example. The biofuel itself will be sold as is, and as a blend that could be added to traditional fuel. They also intent to build many small facilities, instead of a localized big one, so that the biomass does not have to be transported over long distances, which will limit the carbon footprint and the costs. Last but not least, the company is also looking into selling carbon credits
The proposal must have been truly impressive, considering that it managed to secure $100 million coming from major investors such as Google Ventures, BP, General Electric and ConocoPhillips. The money will go towards building of commercial plants. The construction of their first facility is already on the go in Louisiana, where they will soon be building another two.
Image (c) Cool Planet