Archive for February, 2012

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Carbon In Fractions: CoolPlanet Makes Renewable Biofuels (and Sequesters Carbon)

February 6th, 2012


CoolPlanet Energy Systems (CoolPlanet) is a Camarillo, California, company that is developing a “negative carbon” drop-in gasoline replacement fuel from biomass.

According to the company’s web site, the fuel is made using proprietary biomass fractionator technology, which extracts the useful carbons from biomass and leaves a solid carbon byproduct that can be sequestered.  Even better, the sequestration entails burying the carbon byproduct in soil so it can be used as a fertilizer.

CoolPlanet owns several patent applications relating to its biofuel production processes, including two directed to the biomass fractionator technology. 

U.S. Patent Application Publications Nos. 2010/0180805 and 2011/0177466 are related applications entitled “System and method for biomass fractioning” and directed to a biomass fractionator and method (Fractionator Applications). 

An embodiment of a biomass fractionator includes a load and dump station shown in FIG. 2 below.  Biomass is placed in a hopper (6) resting on a sliding gate valve (10).  A transfer plate (11, 11A) is retracted to a fill position by a control bar (12, 12A). 

While the transfer plate (11, 11A) is in the fill position, airlock door (15) is pushed down to the closed position, contacting pressure bulkhead (16) through guide slots (17), and transfer fill slots (18) are located in the hopper fill zone (19).  The hopper sliding gate valve (10) is retracted to fill the transfer fill slots (18, 18A) with biomass.

The transfer plate (11, 11a) is then moved to the right and proceeds through airlock door (15) to a dump position.  Entrained in the transfer lots (18, 18A), biomass is then free to fall through transfer opening (25) on to a biomass reaction compartment of discs or hinged plates (1, 2, 3) shown below.


According to the Fractionator Applications, the system effectively fractionates biomass pyrolysis products into various working streams of syngas.

U.S. Patent Application Publications Nos. 2011/0209386 and 2011/0212004, entitled “Method for making renewable fuels” and “System for making renewable fuels,” respectively (Fuel Processing Applications), seem to pick up where the Fractionator Applications leave off.

The Fuel Processing Applications are directed to systems and methods of converting biomass to renewable fuels including a series of processing stations and a series of catalyst channels comprising a dehydration catalyst, an aromatization catalyst, and a gas-upgrading catalyst.  Volatile gases are routed through the catalysts, which react with the gases to produce renewable fuels.

Finally, U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2010/0257775, entitled “System and method for atmospheric carbon sequestration” (‘775 Application), is directed to methods for carbon sequestration in which biomass is subjected to pyrolysis, and the resulting biochar and filtrate carbon are heated to form inert carbon.  The ‘775 Application also contemplates using the biochar as a capture element for the filtrate carbon.

Together, the Fractionator Applications, the Fuel Processing Applications, and the ‘775 Application seek to protect CoolPlanet’s key systems and processes from different angles.

That protection may go global as well.  According to Cleantech PatentEdgeâ„¢, CoolPlanet has two international, or PCT, patent applications based on the Fractionator Applications and the ‘775 Application.

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Battery Patent Apps Could Support Coda Automotive’s New Energy Storage Biz

February 2nd, 2012


Greentech Media recently reported that Southern California electric vehicle startup Coda Automotive (Coda) launched a battery business called Coda Energy, which will enter the grid-scale energy storage market.

Coda’s patent portfolio offers a window into the battery technology that might be part of the new business.

Coda owns at least half a dozen U.S. patent applications relating to energy storage technologies, including U.S. Patent Application Publications Nos. 2011/0256431 (‘631 Application), 2011/0256432 (‘632 Application), 2011/0281145 (‘145 Application), 2011/0304202 (‘202 Application), 2011/0304298 (‘298 Application, and 2012/0015242 (‘242 Application).

A search in Cleantech PatentEdge™ yields an additional international application, Publication No. WO 2011/060074 (‘074 Application), entitled “Battery thermal management systems and methods,” which is the international, or PCT, filing of the ‘145 Application.

The ‘431 and ‘432 Applications were filed based upon the same provisional patent application and are entitled, respectively, “Battery temperature control” and “Battery humidity control.”

The ‘431 Application is directed to systems for controlling temperature in a battery pack including temperature control gas transported through a distribution and heat transfer system.  The ‘432 Application is directed to systems for inhibiting condensation in a battery pack which include a humidity sensor and control system.

Also pertaining to temperature control are the ‘145 Application and its international counterpart, the ‘074 Application.  Entitled “Battery thermal management systems and methods,” the ‘145 Application is directed to systems for thermal management of a battery pack in which the battery pack (102) has a thermally conductive interstitial member (108) disposed between the battery cells (104a-d). 

The interstitial member (108) is coupled to a plate (110) along a bottom surface of the battery cells and fills at least a portion of the insterstitial space (106).  A first plate (110a) may be located along the bottom of the battery pack (102), a second plate (110b) located along a first side of the pack, and a third plate (110c) located along a second side of the pack.

A cooling fluid (112) flows along the bottom surface of the battery cells (104a-d).  The cooling fluid (112) draws heat generated by the battery pack and may flow in different directions to disperse the heat.

The ‘298 Application is entitled “Battery charging using multiple charges” and relates to distributing charging load among multiple chargers.  Less relevant is the ‘202 Application, which is electric vehicle technology for disconnecting a battery during a crash.

The most recent application, filed in June of last year and just published January 19th, is the ‘242 Application, entitled “Battery with improved terminals.”  The ‘242 Application is directed to a battery cell (10) comprising a casing (12), a cell core (14) housed within the casing, and a sealing lid (16). 

A pair of terminals (18, 20) are supported on the lid.  Fasteners (33) are spaced apart and offset relative to the terminals (18, 20).  According to the ‘242 Application, this arrangement provides a relatively large surface portion for connection to the terminals.