BP joins GE, Google Ventures, ConocoPhillips, and NRG Energy in biomass-to-gasoline startup CoolPlanet’s C Round
CoolPlanet BioFuels, Inc., a start-up company developing a technology that converts low-grade biomass into high-grade fuels, including gasoline, and carbon that can be sequestered (earlier post) announced that BP Technology Ventures has made an investment in the company’s C Round of financing. CoolPlanet’s renewable gasoline is chemically indistinguishable from gasoline derived from and can only be detected by radiocarbon isotope analysis.
CoolPlanet is developing modular thermal/mechanical processors which directly input raw biomass such as woodchips, crop residue, and algae and produce multiple distinct gas streams for catalytic upgrading to conventional fuel components. The process generates activated carbon with a very high surface area which will allow it to be used as a soil enhancer similar to “terra preta”, which, when buried, serves to sequester the carbon.
The C Round, led by Shea Ventures, included follow-on investments by the company’s current investors, General Electric, Google Ventures, ConocoPhillips, NRG and North Bridge Venture Partners.
In addition to BP and ConocoPhillips, several other energy companies are in the process of testing and evaluating Cool Planet’s fuel with very good results to date, according to the company. The company expects to announce additional energy company strategic relationships throughout 2012.
The company completed its B Round financing in the spring of 2011 and has pulled in its C Round a year ahead of schedule in order to accelerate the development of its modular fuel production plants. CoolPlanet expects to deploy hundreds of relatively low cost modular plants around the country in the next few years to make effective use of available biomass without incurring high transportation costs. CoolPlanet’s Energy Systems Division plans to mass produce these plants on a production line basis. CoolPlanet’s BioFuels division plans to team with various strategic partners to produce fuel using this equipment.