Can biofuel power your car for $1.50 a gallon?

Cool Planet Energy Systems believes it can sell biomass-based gasoline for about $1.50 per gallon because of its unique distributed energy approach which brings production right to the fuel source. 

And it doesn't expect to need subsidies to get to that price.

The high-octane gasoline produced is fully compatible with standard automobiles and existing conventional fuel distribution systems. 

While big plants take years to finance and build, Cool Planet will instead rely on small, modular ones that are quickly assembled using components the size of shipping containers. These small refineries can generate 10 million gallons of biofuels a year from local biomass materials, such as corncobs, grasses and and other non-food crops.

"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," says Howard Janzen, CEO. "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 oilat $50 a barrel without any government mandates or subsidies." 

Cool Planet plans to build 30 small production facilities in the next three years and 400 of them over the next 7 to 8 years. It has orders for $500 million worth of the gasoline, they say. 

According to the company, its patented mechanical process for converting agricultural waste or energy crops into fuel "actually removes carbon from the atmosphere during the course of production." 

It does so by capturing the carbon released by the plants and converting it to biochar, which, when returned to the soil, enhances fertility and its ability absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

"This carbon negative process results in up to a 150 percent carbon footprint reduction, far more than any other biomass-to-fuel method," the company says. 

Google, General Electric, BP, ConocoPhillips, NRG and the Constellation Energy division of Exelon are investors.

Image of gas pump provided by Niels Quist via Shutterstock.

This article originally appeared on SustainableBusiness.com  and is reprinted with permission.