Since 2014 we are focused on some biorefinery design options. This article summarizes a revolutionary business model for the tropics consisting in high yielding polyculture and carbon farming to reverse climate change.

This business model is based on licensed hybrids, accessions and varieties of novel biomass grasses, legumes and trees as dedicated crops to produce raw materials. Main products to obtain are 100% organic animal feeds, grass-fed meat, renewable energy and other value added products. Tropical environments producing high yields can annually sequester massive amounts of CO2 per hectare. Whole carbon from the atmosphere can be returned to the soil, a novel regenerative and resilient system is able to produce and export value added commodities. All delivered products are 100% organic and the functionalities in the model target a large market since production costs are low enough to compete with feed commodities such as protein meals from soybean or fishmeal. The business model is currently being funded and developed in a “pilot stage” with an expected first unit to be launched during 2018.

biorefinery1Biorefineries can be expanded with modular strategies. A first and simpler model (what we call “Cool Lab 1.0” version) is a 100 ha farm and a small factory to produce green feeds. The biorefinery takes best technologies developed in recent years including biomass energy and dryers, that process grasses and legumes as silage, haylage (wet materials) or dried pellets for animal feed consumers. The system also produces power and heat and may be adapted to offer fibers suitable for pulp and paper. Best models target high value added products including protein rich concentrated powders and pellets or granules.

2Cool Lab summaryA unique aspect on Cool Labs is the simplicity of the model with mature technologies. This green biorefinery is conceived for tropical poor countries where non renewable energy, fossil based fertilizers (e.g. urea) and animal feed for livestock and aquaculture limit agriculture expansion and often seriously damage the environment. While biomass energy is widely used and pellet markets are growing fast, an open source and small scale system that includes several stakeholders in rural areas, restores the health of degraded industrial sectors and lands such as sugarcane, dairy and beef cattle, and ecologically reforms many unsustainable industries including biomass energy projects (steam power, heat, bioethanol or biogas) cement, bricks, steel industries, pulp and paper, is sorely needed. Such a system could be an essential cornerstone of the bioeconomy of the future.

Organic farming approach for biomass and perennial grasses include bio-stimulants and micro-organisms to favor soil organic matter accumulation for long periods and create conditions for rich nitrogen concentrations in the root zone. Mulch created after harvesting operations, and 365 days crop, determines a productive biomass system. After soil degradation processes in previous years, this is an organic intensive world record of aerial biomass yield. In this photo, the perennial grasses were evaluated in an agroforestry farm in Samaná, Dominican Republic (Photo: Bioenergy Crops). Several experiences include biochar in soil amendment that help soil pH to increase and favor higher nutrient holding capacities. As a result after 5 to 10 years plantation lifespan, soil has an increased soil organic matter and cation exchange and water holding  capacities.

This is a short summary showing a plan for a first biorefinery unit as business model using mature technology readiness and low scale implementation approach in tropical countries.Bioenergy Crops Ltd is engaged in design and development in order to start running factories and plantations in Africa and Latin America. 

What are possible final products? 

Depending on location, we can adapt the system to perform under different premises and determine competitive approach considering local environmental constraints and soil conditions but also market access and competitiveness in tropics. While our pilot is based in animal feed and biofertilizers powered by fibers and biomass energy, many more products are possible for next units.

Leaf protein concentrate has been produced from alfalfa and rye grass since late 60s in Europe. There is a mature food processing industry.

a) Green protein feed sources

  • Green pellets for horses, swine, dairy and beef livestock production: dried and densified digestible feed. Moisture 12-14%. Protein concentrations around 15-35%.
  • Leaf Protein Concentrate (LPC). With 50% crude protein content and 8% moisture, LPC is suitable for both aquaculture and livestock feed supplements. It competes favorably, both in cost and nutrition, with fishmeal, soybean expeller grains, dried distiller grains, and other feeds.

 b) Animal protein sources Grass fed meat is a growing market only limited by rich protein raw materials and management

  • Grass fed meat and dairy products
  • Certified and organic swine, beef and dairy products
  • Aquaculture protein feeds (prawns, tilapia, gar, carp).
  • Insect protein meal and specialty foods.

c) Biofertilizers and biochar productsca1d8ab878

  • Branded biochar biofertilizers (activated organic biochar+minerals+microbes)
  • Foliar sprays, soil biostimulants and other activated bioliquids.
  • Silage conditioners to increase storage, digestibility, protein content and probiotic fermentation.
  • Raw biochar or activated charcoal for industrial applications
  • Pyrolytic oils and chemicals

b2d) Low cost and footprint fibers 

  • Fibers of lower cost and lighter footprint
  • Fiber cakes for animal feed
  • Bagasse from pressed grasses and canes: 15% moisture compared to 50% moisture from standard sources
  • Non-wood pulp fibers for textiles
  • Raw materials for anaerobic digestion
  • Raw materials for bioethanol
  • Raw material for construction fiber
  • Lignocellulosic feedstock for bioplastics and biopolymers.
Rural electrification from solid biomass is viable and technology is demonstrated worldwide with great benefits and low costs.

Rural electrification from solid biomass aimed to produce power is commercially viable. Thermal energy and power can be used as energy source in the biorefinery and to supply other industries or the grid. Technology is demonstrated worldwide with great benefits and low costs.Rural electrification from biomass has been widely demonstrated as a least-cost,  renewable form of clean energy

e) Liquid waste streams

  • Organic deproteinized juices (DPJ) suitable for fermentation.
  • Organic acetic acids, wood vinegar and lactic acids
  • Business model can be integrated with thermophilic composting, anaerobic digestion and digestate management.

f) Renewable energy

The system demonstrates conversion of raw biomass into biofuels and energy, with cascading lines of co-products. At the smallest and most basic entry level, Cool labs transform biomass into industrial heat and power. Some of that heat and power can be sold but a considerable share is reserved to process value-added products (e.g. energy required for screw presses, pre-treatment modules, dryers, hammer mills and ultrafiltration to produce LPC and green feeds).

What are our markets?

Protein, energy and fertilizers are the major markets targeted.  The Cool Lab has a variety of possible add-on products as other markets emerge. Market analysis reports for the tropics and subtropics project sustained growth in clean energy and high quality organic food production. Energy is the main limiting factor, as is true for competitiveness in most areas in the world. The biorefinery is specifically designed to align with World Bank and United Nations approaches by self-providing, at low cost and minimal impact, its own requirements for energy and to sell its surplus.

The following references can be considered for emerging and growing markets addressed by Cool Lab revolutionary business model in tropics (click to access more information)

Protein sources for people

Fisheries and fish meals

Nutrient dense animal feeds, rich protein meals and probiotics supplements

Grass fed meat sector trends are positive

Biofertilizers and Biochar

 Biochar for myriad uses

Organic farm products

Renewable energy 

Energy independence 

Renewable energy for industrial food processing

Biomass, lignocellulosic raw materials 

Why this business opportunity is so different?

Any investor or partner interested in this business model should know that the model is based on existing competitive models in tropical environments that can be replicated.

Bioenergy Crops handled thousands of hectares in tropical lands worldwide.

Bioenergy Crops handled thousands of hectares in tropical lands worldwide.

The model combines extremely high yields per hectare of licensed super grasses and novel (non GMO) legumes with organically produced feedstock and mature technology for fibers and protein fractioning that have been used for decades in Europe. While several companies have developed successful business models in temperate areas (e.g. alfalfa pellet exporting companies) the biorefinery takes advantage of the tropics to produce biomass with an organic farming approach based upon its biofertilizers. This reduces capital and operational costs while raising stability and opportunities for success. The Cool Lab thereby becomes the “engine factory of tropics.” A system that starts with low capital investment and high ROI will boost regional development by opening the door for many other industries. The rapidly growing industries of aquaculture and grass-fed livestock are among those most greatly benefitted.

These items show clearly why this is so different:

Exponential farming:  A small scale, replicable and modular system that can be implemented at low capital cost, making it especially suitable for developing countries and emerging rural economies. The biorefinery system as a microenterprise hub with flexible inputs and outputs can be exploited by polyculture for ecosystem services, carbon farming for reversing climate change and regenerating soil fertility, and clean, renewable, biomass energy

Low scale and flexible/replicable:  The Cool Lab is easy to install near livestock or forestry activities. It is the cheapest biorefinery worldwide. Bioenergy Crops Ltd, with experience in Africa, Latin America and Asia, helps supply networks for distribution and support, train local management, and identify potential feedstock suppliers.

napier growth2

Yields:  Biomass productivity of feedstock systems range from 40 to 80 dry tons per hectare in tropical areas. Frequent grass cuttings (6 to 10 harvest per year) maximize radiation, nitrogen and water use efficiencies. Protein contents range from 12 to 19% crude protein (dry basis). Degraded lands from sugarcane production and overgrazed and abandoned grasslands have been extensively tested with new hybrid grasses that produce three times the protein production of GMO soy per hectare per year. Use of legumes, manure and rotations are synergetic with organic and carbon farming approaches to provide nitrogen by natural synthesis and eliminate dependence on soil-impoverishing artificial fertilizers.

Source: Ohio State University (2005). Available here:

Source: Ohio State University (2005). Available here:

Carbon sequestration:  The biorefinery model sequesters greenhouse gases. This occurs at several stages along the process. Carbon is left deep in the soil profile by grass roots and the exudates of the soil food web that services the fast-growing plants. Pyrolytic conversion of the above ground biomass for heat and power converts the carbon from labile to recalcitrant form for perpetual storage below ground, where it activates a life-cycle that increases carbon absorption and storage. Adding the byproduct, biochar, as a soil amendment via biofertilizer blends achieves up to 20 tons of CO2 equivalent drawdown per hectare per year. Feeding probiotic biochar supplements to animals, besides accelerating weight gain and boosting immunity from disease, ends up composted in the soil, further adding to carbon being drawn away from the atmosphere, more or less permanently. Beyond the actual drawdown effect of these processes, there are also the avoided greenhouse gas emissions from replacing fossil energy for heat and power; for making chemical fertilizer; for producing animal antibiotics, and for absorbing nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases from manures and slurries. Emissions avoided represent 80 to 160 tons CO2 captured per hectare each year.

High value added products  are growing markets. Sectors reports show explosive expansion coming for biofertilizers, protein feeds and extracts, industrial and processed fibers, and clean energy.

Organic farming: No pesticides, agrochemicals, or petrochemical fertilizer are used. Other organic requirements, such as integrated land stewardship, closed cycle return of fertility, and responsibility to the human and ecological communities are intrinsic to the design of the system.

biochar biomass plantations bioenergy cropsRegenerative and resilient agriculture:  The land use pattern shifts from monocultures of annuals to productive perennial polycultures, with grasses and legumes, trees crops and hedgerows. Depending on specific models and location, there is riparian aquaculture and marine permaculture mimicking the natural successions of ecosystems are compatible with the pasture systems. Earthworks combined with contour farming eliminate soil erosion issues. The rotational approach, with return of compost, foliar sprays, biofertilizers and integral animal farming, assures that soil is always covered, that minerals and nutrients are never depleted, and that carbon is being held. This is a “game changer” for marginal lands.

Renewable energy: FAO director-general José Graziano Da Silva once said “forget  the food vs energy debate, now we need a food AND energy approach.” The Cool Lab produces both clean energy and nutrient-dense organic foods. Devices to cascade value may include boilers, vegetable oil generators, anaerobic digestion, small gasifiers and bioethanol and advanced biofuels refineries.

Off grid / own inputs: This model introduces enterprise hubs that produce their own inputs, replacing fossil fuels, insisting on best practices for organic and carbon farming, closing the loop of wastes, and generate fast economic returns from energy, fertilizer and proteins. This helps the Cool Lab, and its successors, to grow virally.

Policy Making:  The model is revolutionary. It integrates all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It improves upon the principal strategies for drawdown identified by the IPCC and others. It adheres to the Zero Net Land Degradation Standard of the UNCDD. It follows the same approach that FAO, IRENA and EIA support and promote today with most strict sustainability criteria. Cool lab is also meets similar techniques to those used in land restoration and soil and habitat regeneration.

Similar companies doing this?



Current status of development (pilot)

– Stakeholders, suppliers, engineering and EPC companies and feedstock contractors in place.

– Pre design and concept. Some pre-feasibility assessments finished.

– List of equipment and infrastructure with existing quotation from serious companies include agriculture machinery, silage management and loaders, tornado pulpers, screens, screw presses, rotary drum drier, other concentrators and cleaning / purification systems, ultrafiltration and coagulation, packaging, pelletizers and granule manufacturing equipment.

– Factory energy requirement. Biomass heat and power (anaerobic digestion and boilers or gasifiers depending on first unit location and final scale issues are being discussed).

– Civil work and site 40km away from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Road access and pavement confirmed. Reception, sheds, patio, liquid storage tanks and drainage-waste system under discussions.

Protein fractionation background

–  Low scale demonstration

Learn more about making leaf curds here

The video above belongs to Vincent Corp and uses corn silage but this and other similar equipment have been tested to fraction biomass from grasses with solid evidence of performance required (moisture reductions form 75-85% to 45-55%).

About feedstock and Bioenergy Crops

Bioenergy Crops (BEC) will source the feedstocks from cooperating farmers and owned/leased and managed farms. We would be in charge of crop management and operations to supply feedstock to the factory. BEC will offer these farmers licensed, pedigreed, non-GMO, super crops (grasses and legumes mainly), Bioenergy Crops will lead development process and scientific consultations and will involve engineering and constructor parties required during initial stages. We build up teams and create the capacities during first 2-3 years with our own agronomists, trainers and personnel dedicated to the establishment of the biodiverse cropping systems, nurseries and farm development.

Below some examples of our feedstock solutions by Bioenergy Crops

Our new PMN licensed super grass is a hybrid between Pearl millet and elephant grasses. It was developed by Texas A&M. Several new legume crops are also being considered, with existing seed stock available through partners. Bioenergy Crops has been involved in recent years in many projects worldwide. Besides PMN, BEC has agreements with Embrapa and USDA for varieties, accessions and several other sources of planting materials suitable for Cool Lab biorefinery.  BEC has  different licenses to grow biomass crops that are in most cases exclusive for several territories around the world — including the whole of Africa, the major countries of Latin American and the Caribbean, and several countries in Asia.

Read more on BEC Seed & Management here.

Typical management for grasses:

Legumes we consider for the tropics

Our energy grasses


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