Noah J Nelson on Tuesday, Apr. 1st
Biofuels have been a controversial alternative energy source for decades now. A surface read of the details on paper–renewable, plant-based gasoline alternatives–looks great. The reality has proven to be less than ideal, with corn-based fuels driving up the price of feedstock.
Venture capitalists have lost a fair amount of cash on a biofuel revolution that has yet to pay off. That didn’t stop the deep pockets at BP, General Electric, ConocoPhillips and Google Ventures–of all places–from contributing for a $100 million round of funding for the Colorado-based Cool Planet, as The Verge reports:
Like many biofuels companies before it, Cool Planet makes liquid fuel from plant matter, mostly leftover agricultural waste like corn cobs and sugar canes. Its insight was that during this process it could also create biochar, a substance that comes from burning plants under extreme heat and pressure with little to no oxygen. The biochar prevents carbon dioxide from escaping as the plants decay and can be spread on farmland, helping the soil retain water and nutrients, boosting crop yields. Because the biochar keeps carbon in the ground for years, even centuries, Cool Planet argues that its process takes more CO2 out of the atmosphere than it adds in.
TL;DR: they think the process can fight global warming.
Yet what is the search giant’s VC fund doing investing in fuel? Why did Facebook get into the virtual reality business for that matter?
The biggest names in Silicon Valley are diversifying as fast as they can these days.