In a warming world, every gas-powered vehicle contributes to CO2 emissions. California-based Cool Planet Energy not only believes they have a low-cost alternative to gasoline, but one that is actually carbon negative. They have developed a biofuel that is chemically identical to gasoline, but costs only $1.50 a gallon without the aid of government subsidy, and they just received $30 million out of their $100 million goal to fund the first commercial facility.

miscanthus, biofuel, cool planet energy, renewable, carbon negative

Cool Planet Energy’s biofuel is made from woody biomass which includes agricultural waste, non-food feedstocks, and miscanthus, a type of grass native to parts of Africa and Asia. These plants require very little care prior to processing, and can be air-dried in the field without the use of equipment. Refining uses little heat or pressure, and the company is hoping to create modular biorefineries that can be placed near biofuel crops in order to save on transportation costs and energy inputs. Each would be nearly 100 times smaller than a standard oil refinery, and could produce 10 million gallons of fuel each year.

A co-product of the creation of the biofuel is called biochar, a black carbon substance that is produced as a product of the refining process. When burned, it would add carbon back to the atmosphere, but when placed on the soil it can actually capture carbon and absorb moisture. Cool Planet Energy hopes to make its biofuel crops more fertile and arable land more viable with the use of the material.

Last fall, the company had teamed up with Google to test their biofuel with the tech giant’s GRide taxi at their headquarters in Mountain View. The vehicle ran for over 2,500 miles while adhering to the California 2020 Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Under stop-and-go conditions, the GRide blend of 95% normal gasoline and 5% Cool Planet blend reached nearly the same mileage as with 100% petroleum. Along with Google, Constellation Energy, GE, BP, and ConocoPhillips, have all expressed interest in the company’s developments. Hopefully with industry backing, there will be a future where transportation will be able to create and avenue towards carbon sequestration instead of pollution.

+ Cool Planet Energy

Via Clean Technica

Images via Wikicommons users Tau’olunga and Tomomarusan.