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Google leads $20 million financing round for biofuels startup

Google leads $20 million financing round for biofuels startup

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Google Ventures has made an investment in CoolPlanetBiofuels, an 18-month-old startup firm that specializes in the conversion of biomass and agricultural waste into fuel.

Google Ventures announced on Thursday that it made an undisclosed Series B investment in CoolPlanetBiofuels, an 18-month-old startup firm that specializes in the conversion of biomass and agricultural waste into fuel.

The Camarillo, Calif.-based company was the recipient of $20 million in financing for the round. Previously, it raised $8 million in a round led by North Bridge Venture Partners with participation from GE Energy Financial Services.

The firm has also received attention from ConocoPhillips and NRG Energy.

The funding is intended to accelerate the development and scale of the company's technology, which converts low-grade biomass such as grass and woodchips -- optimal, since it doesn't compete with food production the way corn-based ethanol does -- into high-grade fuel.

The compartmentalization of the technology, reducing the distance that low-value biomass must travel to become biofuels, is an important part of the company's value proposition.

In the company's own words:

CoolPlanetBioFuels plans to package its proprietary biomass fractionator together with an "open architecture" chemical processing section in standard modular shipping containers which can each produce up to 1 million gallons of fuel per year. These modular fuel processors can be equipped with CoolPlanet's catalytic conversion processes and/or your own selection of dryers, separators, catalytic processes, etc.

The process produces a biproduct that can be used to sequester carbon and act as a soil conditioner, allowing CoolPlanetBioFuels to call its product a "negative carbon fuel."

"The technology is a win-win as the company is developing a sustainable and renewable energy source that also helps reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere," Google Ventures partner Wesley Chan said in a statement.

Now all they'll have to do is get a better name.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure