Imagine a company that says it can produce virtually limitless amounts of cheap gasoline, create arable land for food production and solve the climate crisis–all at once.
That’s the promise of CoolPlanet BioFuels.
Mike Cheiky, the company’s founder and CEO, spoke about CoolPlanet’s “negative emissions technology” at Brainstorm Green, FORTUNE’s conference about business and the environment. Yes, negative emissions.
Does that mean, I asked him, that the more you drive a car powered by CoolPlanet’s biofuels, the more CO2 will be pulled out of the air? Yes, he replied.
“The world doesn’t have too much carbon,” Cheiky explained. The problem’s is that the carbon’s in the wrong place. There’s too much in the atmosphere, causing global warming, and not enough in the soil. Essentially, Cool Planet has a plan to use plants to remove it from the air and then restore it to the land.
Before you decide that this is too good to be true, you should know that Cheiky, a veteran entrepreneur, has persuaded Google, General Electric, BP, ConocoPhillips, NRG Energy, Exelon and venture capital firms Shea Ventures and North Bridge Venture Partners to invest millions of dollars–he won’t say how many millions–in CoolPlanet Biofuels.
“We have been poked and prodded so many ways by so many people,” Cheiky told me. “GE sent 17 people to do their due diligence at a time when we had only 15 employees.”
These investors wrote him checks, he added, because of his track record. “I’ve done six start-ups in my career,” he went on, “and I’ve never had a down round. They’ve all been very successful.” [click to continue…]