Sustainable America Blog


With the biofuels sector bringing in some $1.4 billion through investment in just 33 “biomass to energy” technology corporations, there are lots of players looking to get into the game while its still relatively early. Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is considered biological material from living or recently living organisms.

What is being touted as second generation biomass technology, holds a bright future for investors. Second generation biofuels are those that use cellulosic wood crops, agricultural residue and waste or algae to produce fuel.

CoolPlanetBioFuels is Google’s entry into the biofuels game. According to the CoolPlanet website, they aim to develop:

>…revolutionary negative carbon fuels based on plant photosynthesis which absorb carbon from the air. We can make exact replacements for gasoline that will operate in your current cars and we can make even more advanced superfuels for even higher gas mileage and better performance in future vehicles.

Their goal – N100 Carbon Rating. This means that the fuel is 100% carbon neutral. Despite the fact that their fuel produces about the same amount of carbon as gasoline, CoolPlanet plans to achieve this N100 rating by sequestering the carbon in the soil as a soil enhancer. (See the graphic above for a visual explanation of the process). They claim that this method will store the carbon using natural processes to simulate “terra preta” – a very dark and fertile soil naturally found in the Amazon basin.

How will they do this you may ask? With a biomass fractionater of course! What exactly that will look like remains to be seen, but CoolPlanet is betting the farm on the emerging technologies, and with Google on their side, they just may have the capital and know-how on their side to make it happen.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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