Cool Planets' Commercial Biomass to Gasoline Facility, Louisiana, United States of America

Cool Planet's facility, Louisiana

Cool Planet Energy Systems started the construction of the first of three small-scale biomass-to-gasoline refineries in Louisiana in February 2014. The second plant will be located at the Natchitoches port, while the location for the third plant is yet to be determined.

The construction of the Natchitoches facility is scheduled to start in mid-2015 and be completed in 2016, while the third plant is also expected to be commissioned in the same year.

The first plant, dubbed Project Genesis, will produce ten million gallons of high-octane gasoline, which will be blended at neighbouring refineries in Louisiana. A soil enhancing byproduct of the refining process called Biochar will also be produced at the new facility, which is expected to be operational by late 2014.

URS Corporation was contracted to carry out the front-end engineering and design for the project in September 2013.

The new bio-refinery is estimated to generate a minimum of 500 jobs, while the combined three small-scale bio-refinery projects in Louisiana, built with an investment of $168m, are expected to create over 800 new jobs.

Strategic location of the facility

Cool Planet's first refinery is being constructed at the Alexandria port on the Red River Waterway in Louisiana. The 26-acre site was chosen due to the availability of feedstock and workforce, in addition to its accessibility to interstate and rail networks that include direct barge access to more than nine refineries.

Road improvements and upgrades to the gas, water, sewer and electrical facilities at Alexandria will also be carried out under the project.

Financing for Project Genesis

The total budget for the project is estimated at $56m. The company closed a $29.9m first round of Series D financing to fund the project in June 2013; the second close of the D round, amounting to $19.4m, was achieved in September 2013; and the full closure of the anticipated $100m Series D financing was achieved in March 2014.

Feedstock and processing technology

The refinery will use non-food based biomass feedstock to produce gasoline, primarily yellow pine wood waste and forest byproducts. It will implement a thermo-mechanical process, which converts the biomass into gases using heat and pressure. The company's proprietary catalytic conversion processes will then be used to convert the gases into green fuels.

A certain amount of biochar, known as CoolTerra, is left behind in the process and is subsequently used in the reduction of fertiliser and water use in agriculture. This demonstrates yield improvements by more than 50%. Biochar is also applied in other industries such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The process will enable the company's overall production cycle to be carbon negative or enable a permanent removal of the greenhouse gas emissions.

"The combined three small-scale bio-refinery projects are expected to require an investment of $168m and create over 800 new jobs."

Marketing commentary

Cool Planet Energy Systems is headquartered at Greenwood Village, Colorado, and has research facilities in Camarillo, California. Major investors in the company include BP Ventures, Google Ventures and Energy Technology Ventures, a joint venture of GE, NRG Energy and ConocoPhillips.

The company signed an agreement with Concord Energy in September 2013 to form a joint venture to develop commercial production facilities in the Asia-Pacific region. Cool Planet also signed an agreement with Acritaz Greentech in October 2013 to explore the possibilities of constructing commercial facilities in Malaysia.

NRI Energy Technology