Cool Planet: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

January 28, 2015 |

5-Minute-Guide-logoCool Planet is a technology company that is developing sustainable products to address three of the world’s largest markets: energy, food and water. Currently they are commercializing a technology to create drop-in green fuels and biochar in a way that can change the world for good.

The green fuels are chemically identical to fossil fuels and can be blended into the current fuel supply to reduce greenhouse gases from the air without sacrificing performance or increasing prices at the pump.

The biochar products sequester carbon and deliver transformative benefits to industries as diverse as agriculture, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The company says that “our technology allows us to build smaller, significantly less expensive facilities closer to biomass feedstock, so we can expand rapidly, achieve lower scale-up risk and continuously innovate and improve with each distributed facility.”


50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy: #17, 2014/15


Cool Planet was a 2014 Transformative Technology finalist for “Transformative molecule (biobased material)” and “Transformative conversion technology (liquid)”.


Owner-operator, JV partner and technology licensor.

The Situation

The timelines have moved back — possibly related to financing. Originally the company was discussing a completion of construction on the first commercial in 2014 — now the word is late 2015 with start-up in 2016.

At the same time, the volume is ramping up more cautiously. The company continues to guide that the first commercial will have 10 million gallons in capacity, but the initial deployment will be in the 1M gallons range.

Also, there have been variances in the discussion around project cost — could be simply media confusion. Certainly we spotted a report in August projecting a $56 million tab for the construction cost of the first commercial, yet the loan guarantee is for a higher amount – $91 million in all. It may well be that the inatial project tender is for the first million gallons, and the overall project cost is higher. Or, the loan guarantee could cover 54 percent debt portion of the first three projects. We’ll wait to learn more.

We’ve said it before: The key, in so many ways, is in Cool Terra — a product that has to deliver a substantial market if Cool Planet is to reach its cost and emissions goals.

Past Milestones

In October 2014, Cool Planet was issued a $91MM conditional commitment from the United States Department of Agriculture for a loan guarantee to support construction of the company’s first commercial manufacturing plant. The facility will be located at the Port of Alexandria, Louisiana.

Also in October, the company unveiled its first commercial-scale production facility for its CoolTerra soil amendment. The new manufacturing facility is located in Camarillo, California.  CoolTerra is a highly porous soil enhancer engineered to retain water and fertilizer.In a recent field trial testing the effectiveness of CoolTerra on high-value strawberry crops, CoolTerra increased production by 56 percent with normal watering levels and with 40 percent less fertilizer. In recent turf grass trials with a municipality, a one-time permanent application of CoolTerra enabled water use to be cut in half, while improving the overall appearance of the lawns.

In August 2014, the company said that it expected to put out to tender later that year for construction of its $56 million waste-to-gasoline facility. It has already begun ground clearing ahead of the process. Front-end design work should be finished by November. The facility should start producing 1 million gallons per year beginning in 2016, later scaling up to 10 million gallons.

The facility will be located at the Port of Alexandria, on the Red River Waterway in Central Louisiana. The site was chosen because of its excellent wood biomass availability, interstate and rail access, and direct barge access to more than nine refineries. The facility is expected to produce at least 24 direct jobs and bring at least $56 million in economic investment into the state. Estimates are that an additional 150 indirect jobs will result because of this facility, and 350 construction jobs will be utilized.

In March 2014, Cool Planet announced that it had closed on its targeted $100 million Series D financing. North Bridge Venture Partners and Concord Energy were the lead investors for the round. The round added investors from Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Mexico to a marquee existing investor base, including North Bridge Venture Partners, Shea Ventures, BP, Google Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures (GE, ConocoPhillips, NRG Energy), and the Constellation division of Exelon.

In November 2013, Cool Planet Energy Systems,as a member of the Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR), was awarded a grant by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to develop the scientific underpinnings for using beetle-killed wood as a sustainable feedstock for distributed bio-refineries.

In October 2013, Cool Planet announced the launch of their biochar soil amendment product “Cool Terra” for commercial agricultural trials. Rick Wilson, Vice President of the Cool Planet Biochar Group, made the announcement at the 2013 US Biochar conference. It plans to continue expanding application opportunities with selected partners in the agricultural community leading to commercial product release in 2014.

In October 2013, Cool Planet Energy Systems and Acritaz Greentech announced that they have signed an agreement to explore the building of multiple commercial facilities in Malaysia.

The plan is to begin construction on the first plant in 2014.   Acritaz will work with Cool Planet to use biomass raw materials local to the region that include palm plantation waste products such as empty fruit bunches, wood, and bark waste to make renewable, cellulosic fuels for the Asian market.

In September 2013, Concord Energy signed an agreement with Cool Planet Energy Systems to establish a joint-venture in the Asia Pacific Region. The JV will develop commercial production facilities for the conversion of non-food biomass into biofuels and soil enhancing biochar. Concord Energy has also made a financial investment in the Cool Planet.

In 2013, Cool Planet Energy Systems CEO Howard Janzen said that the company will build three bio-refineries in Louisiana with a capital investment of $168 million. The project will consist of modular biomass-to-gasoline refineries in the Port of Alexandria, Natchitoches and a site to be determined. Cool Planet will create 72 new direct jobs, averaging $59,600 per year, plus benefits. Additionally, LED estimates the project will result in 422 new indirect jobs, for a total of 494 new jobs. The company estimates 750 construction jobs will also be created by the project.

Future Milestones

Cool Planet will use a portion of the equity raise to finalize engineering design for the company’s first commercial facility. The funding will also provide capital to construct Cool Planet’s first commercial plant, which will be located at the Port of Alexandria, Louisiana.

At last update, construction was to begin on the second bio-refinery at the Port of Natchitoches by the summer of 2015, with a completion date in the summer of 2016. The third site was scheduled to come online in late 2016 at a Louisiana site to be determined.

Cool Planet will utilize wood waste and forest byproducts to make gasoline at its initial commercial-scale facilities in Louisiana. Each bio-refinery will be capable of producing 10 million gallons of high-octane, low-vapor pressure gasoline for strategic distribution through existing market channels and for blending at Louisiana refineries.


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