Sometimes he explains it to me and I nod my head while hearing terms like P&IDs, pneumatic controls, electrical design, biochar, automation, proprietary catalysts, green fuels, , carbon capture, biomass fractionator, thermo-mechanical processes…and so on. Ummmm…Yeah exactly. When it comes to this question I have a hard time providing a simple answer. Here is the official status; Nelson is an Electro-mechanical technician with a company called Cool Planet Bio Fuels based out of Camarillo Ca, who is a private research and development company specializing in clean energy technologies. The are backed by the likes of GE, Exelon, Conoco Phillips, Google Ventures, BP to name a few and just closed their fourth round of funding at $100 Million for the next quarter.
Basically they convert biomass into biofuel, or as Cool Planet puts it:
A technology company that is developing sustainable products to address three of the world’s largest markets: energy, food and water
- Biomass Pyrolysis: Biomass is processed through a mechanical system that uses pressure and heat to create streams of useful hydrocarbon components. Cool Planet’s sources of biomass include corn stover, wood chips, and fast growing, non-food energy crops such as miscanthus.
- Catalytic Conversion: Cool Planet has developed a number of proprietary catalytic conversion processes to convert these useful hydrocarbon components into different types of fuels. One of our catalytic conversion processes creates a high-octane gasoline blend stock that can be used in today’s standard automobiles requiring no change to existing conventional fuel distribution systems.
- Carbon Capture: Once the useful components for fuel have been removed, the biofractionation captures the leftover plant matter in a solid carbon form called biochar. This excess carbon is highly porous and has beneficial water and nutrient retaining capabilities. By creating renewable fuel and sequestering the biochar in the ground as soil enhancer, we permanently remove atmospheric CO2 for hundreds of years.
Due to the company’s patented technology and biochar products, our green fuels have the capability to be carbon negative, beating the carbon footprints of electric and natural gas alternatives.
So to recap biomass is converted into fuels and the excess material is harnessed in the form of solid carbon and converted to biochar which is used as a soil enhancer to fertilize and produce more energy crops that are harvested to repeat the cycle.
For more information about Cool Planet BioFuels and animated video on the carbon negative process click here
I thought I would share some images of the massive technology they build as it is the best way to illustrate his work. It all beings with a concept, which is put onto a blue print, and Nelson then builds.. At this point the company operates on 12 hour runs back to back testing production in order to refine the process and produce fuel. Nelson is now on call as the technician who builds, troubleshoots, and if it breaks, he fixes it. Its a bit of pressure on him but he is up for the challenge. What you see here is what he built, with the exception of the green / blue structure which was built in Canada.
This massive structure is one half of its entire form. The other half being what you see above, which Nelson built (per concept and design of an entire engineering team)