- A California company announced it has made a major breakthrough in converting biomass to gasoline. Cool Planet BioFuels achieved 4,000 gallons per acre biomass to gasoline conversion in pilot testing using giant miscanthus, an advanced bioenergy crop.
Cool Planet BioFuels, Camarilla, Calif., announced that it has made a major breakthrough in converting biomass to gasoline. The Company achieved 4,000 gallons/acre biomass to gasoline conversion in pilot testing using giant miscanthus, an advanced bioenergy crop.
Gasoline has about one and a half times the energy of ethanol, so this is about twelve times more yield than current corn ethanol production levels.
The giant miscanthus was developed at the University of Mississippi and provided from a high yield plot by Repreve Renewables. Other advanced bio-energy crops, such as sorghum and switch grass, can provide similar annual yields using this new process.
"These test results are based on nearly optimal crop growth conditions and demonstrate what is possible in a good growing season. Under more routine growing conditions, we estimate yields of about 3,000 gallons/acre should be achievable throughout the Midwest by selecting the proper energy crop for local conditions," says Mike Cheiky, Cool Planet's founder and CEO.
Agricultural waste from food crops can also produce up to 1,000 gallons of gasoline/acre using this new technology. The process creates ultra-high surface area carbon in an intermediate step of the conversion process. Some of this carbon can be diverted to form a very potent soil enhancer which can grow more crops and sequester carbon dioxide.
Although opting to divert some of the carbon to soil enhancer will reduce the current fuel output, it can generate more fertile farmland for more food and fuel production over a several year period, particularly in areas which have low land productivity today. This sequestering process gives the Cool Planet fuel a low or even negative carbon rating.
Cool Planet's technology and its potential global impact on climate change and poverty were recently detailed in a talk at Google's elite SolveForX Conference where 16 speakers presented innovative technologies to address the world's biggest problems. Each of the talks was reviewed by a group of 50 top scientists, inventors and futurists invited by Google.
The consensus on Cool Planet's presentation was that the Company should pursue the carbon sequestration and land productivity enhancement aspects of this technology as well as its fuel production capabilities.
Mike Cheiky's 14 minute talk is viewable online at www.wesolveforx.com.
More on the renewable cellulosic gasoline process:
This breakthrough utilizes mild process conditions, with process temperatures comparable to a kitchen stovetop and maximum pressures comparable to a portable tire inflator. Input biomass is coarsely ground from in field air-dried bioenergy crops with moisture content in the 10-20% range. Many advanced energy crops retain root structure for several years and are simply cut down once a year for harvesting, dramatically reducing the carbon intensity of agricultural activities versus other bio sources such as algae farming or wood clearing, chipping and drying. The total process time from biomass to fuel is under one hour. Total energy and biomass feedstock cost using today's commodity pricing is under 60 cents/gallon.
Cool Planet's cellulosic gasoline is chemically identical to fossil gasoline. The only way it can be detected is by carbon 14 isotope analysis which determines the ratio of carbon from biomass versus carbon from fossil sources in a fuel mixture. Since this gasoline has no oxygenates, it is not subject to the ethanol blend wall and can be seamlessly mixed with pump gas. Cool Planet's fuel has been tested by independent laboratories as well as four of the top ten gasoline producers in the world. The Company has received California (CARB) and U.S. EPA approval for fleet testing as a splash blend with conventional pump gasoline. Cool Planet's pilot facilities can support several fleet tests.
Cool Planet has started fabrication of a mass production ready modular refinery, a design that facilitates rapid deployment around the US and the world. The Company plans to install several plants over the next two years with rapid build out thereafter to provide a significant amount of the world's liquid fuel by 2020.