Cool Planet tests Freedom giant miscanthus in pilot operations

By Erin Voegele | March 08, 2012

Cool Planet Biofuels recently announced its use of Repreve Renewables’ Freedom giant miscanthus as feedstock for pilot-scale biobased gasoline production. According to information released by the companies, Repreve Renewables provided the biomass to Cool Planet for testing purposes. By using Repreve Renewables' giant miscanthus in its process, Cool Planet was reportedly able to achieve a 4,000 gallon per acre conversion rate. This number reflects potential of the crop when grown under optimum growing conditions.

“When gasoline can be made from plants, it’s important to grow the most plant material per acre,” said Repreve Renewables Founder Phillip Jennings. “The yield per acre of Freedom giant miscanthus is unmatchable among purpose-grown energy crops. We look forward to the day when producing 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of gasoline per acre of land is done on a commercial scale. Repreve Renewables is ready to do our part to make it happen.”

According to information published by Repreve Renewables, its giant miscanthus is a perennial grass that is able to provide up to 25 tons of biomass per acre on an annual basis. The company also notes the biomass crop is heat and drought tolerant and can tolerate poor soils.

Information published by Repreve Renewables in regard to Cool Planet’s use of Freedom giant miscanthus notes that the announcement demonstrates what is achievable under optimum growing conditions in the southeast portion of the U.S. Under more routine growing conditions, Cool Planet estimates it could achieve a lower conversion rate of 3,000 gallons per acre.

According to Cool Planet, its biobased gasoline has about 1.5 times the energy of ethanol, which makes the yields achieved through the use of Freedom giant miscanthus nearly 12 times the yield achieved at current corn ethanol production levels. Furthermore, Cool Planet noted that other advanced biomass crops, such as sorghum and switchgrass, could provide similar annual results using its process technology.  

Information provided by Cool Planet describes its cellulosic gasoline process. The company states that the technology features mild process conditions with temperatures comparable to a kitchen stovetop and maximum pressures comparable to a portable tire inflator. Coarsely ground bioenergy crops, with moisture contents between 10 to 20 percent, are fed into the gasification process. The result is a set of multiple distinct gas streams that can be catalytically upgraded to produce conventional fuel molecules.