Carbon in Fractions: CoolPlanet Makes Renewable Biofuels and Sequesters Carbon

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CoolPlanet Energy Systems (CoolPlanet) is a Camarillo, California, company that is developing a “negative carbon” drop-in gasoline replacement fuel from biomass.

According to the company’s web site, the fuel is made using proprietary biomass fractionator technology, which extracts the useful carbons from biomass and leaves a solid carbon byproduct that can be sequestered. Even better, the sequestration entails burying the carbon byproduct in soil so it can be used as a fertilizer.

CoolPlanet owns several patent applications relating to its biofuel production processes, including two directed to the biomass fractionator technology.

U.S. Patent Application Publications Nos. 2010/0180805 and 2011/0177466 are related applications entitled “System and method for biomass fractioning” and directed to a biomass fractionator and method (Fractionator Applications).

An embodiment of a biomass fractionator includes a load and dump station shown in FIG. 2 below. Biomass is placed in a hopper (6) resting on a sliding gate valve (10). A transfer plate (11, 11A) is retracted to a fill position by a control bar (12, 12A).

While the transfer plate (11, 11A) is in the fill position, airlock door (15) is pushed down to the closed position, contacting pressure bulkhead (16) through guide slots (17), and transfer fill slots (18) are located in the hopper fill zone (19). The hopper sliding gate valve (10) is retracted to fill the transfer fill slots (18, 18A) with biomass.

The transfer plate (11, 11a) is then moved to the right and proceeds through airlock door (15) to a dump position. Entrained in the transfer lots (18, 18A), biomass is then free to fall through transfer opening (25) on to a biomass reaction compartment of discs or hinged plates (1, 2, 3) shown below.

According to the Fractionator Applications, the system effectively fractionates biomass pyrolysis products into various working streams of syngas.

U.S. Patent Application Publications Nos. 2011/0209386 and 2011/0212004, entitled “Method for making renewable fuels” and “System for making renewable fuels,” respectively (Fuel Processing Applications), seem to pick up where the Fractionator Applications leave off.

The Fuel Processing Applications are directed to systems and methods of converting biomass to renewable fuels including a series of processing stations and a series of catalyst channels comprising a dehydration catalyst, an aromatization catalyst, and a gas-upgrading catalyst. Volatile gases are routed through the catalysts, which react with the gases to produce renewable fuels.

Finally, U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2010/0257775, entitled “System and method for atmospheric carbon sequestration” (’775 Application), is directed to methods for carbon sequestration in which biomass is subjected to pyrolysis, and the resulting biochar and filtrate carbon are heated to form inert carbon. The ’775 Application also contemplates using the biochar as a capture element for the filtrate carbon.

Together, the Fractionator Applications, the Fuel Processing Applications, and the ’775 Application seek to protect CoolPlanet’s key systems and processes from different angles.

That protection may go global as well. According to Cleantech PatentEdge™, CoolPlanet has two international, or PCT, patent applications based on the Fractionator Applications and the ’775 Application.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@luce.com.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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