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October 26, 2012

Google Tests Low-Cost, High-Tech Biofuel Blend at Mountain View Campus



While most U.S. motorists have failed to find a gas station that sells fuel for less than $3.50, search-giant Google (News - Alert) has hit the mother lode. The Mountain View, California-based Internet innovator has been testing Cool Planet Energy Systems’ biofuel blend—which is projected to sell for under $1.50 per gallon when it is commercialized—at its corporate campus with great success, according to both companies.

Google Ventures —along with General Electric, BP Technology Ventures, ConocoPhillips, NRG Energy and the Constellation Energy division of Exelon —also has invested in Camarillo, California-based green energy startup.

Founded in 2009, Cool Planet has developed ground-breaking, disruptive technology that economically converts non-food biomass, such as wood chips, crop residues, and algae, into gas streams. The gas streams are then added to conventional fuels, resulting in a reduced-carbon fuel that the company calls N100.

Google is using the biofuel blend in a Hertz On Demand campus vehicle, known as GRide, which has operated “seamlessly,” according to both companies, for more than 2,490 miles. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

To determine the advantages of the new biofuel blend, a control car was filled with 100 percent regular gasoline. The test car successfully passed five smog checks with no significant difference between cars. The total stop-and-go mileage of the both cars was nearly the same, with 2,490 miles on the GRide, compared with 2,514 miles on the control vehicle.

Other field tests planned include a partnership with Ventura County, and another current investor fleet test to be run in California.

“Innovations in alternative fuels will be key in addressing growing climate change concerns,” said Brendon Harrington, Transportation Operations manager at Google, Inc. “We are thrilled to be a part of Cool Planet’s field testing and believe that this product has the potential to make a significant impact on our future energy needs.”

 “Unlike many other biofuel companies, Cool Planet’s carbon-negative gasoline is price-competitive, because of the ingenuity behind our innovation. By mass-producing mobile, pre-fabricated micro-refineries that are easily transportable to the biomass source, we significantly reduce costs of feedstock transportation, which maximizes our overall capital efficiency,” said Howard Janzen (News - Alert), president and CEO at Cool Planet Energy Systems. “Each micro-refinery is one hundred times smaller than a typical oil refinery and can produce 10 million gallons of fuel per year. This puts us in the running to compete with oil at $50 a barrel without any government mandates or subsidies.”

A byproduct of producing biofuel is the activated carbon, or biochar, which can be used as a soil enhancer increasing land fertility, while isolating the carbon captured from the atmosphere. This comprehensive carbon negative process results in up to a 150 percent carbon footprint reduction, far more than any other biomass-to-fuel method, according to Cool Planet.




Edited by Rich Steeves

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