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Defense Spending Bill Contains Provisions for E85, Coal-to-Liquids Reports

27 December 2005

Tucked away in the massive $453-billion defense spending bill passed by both houses of Congress prior to its holiday recess are provisions for separate reports on two alternative fuels for use by the military: E85 (85% ethanol blend) and Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) synthetic fuels.

Now cleared for signing by the President, the spending bill, H.R. 1815 (EAS—Engrossed as Agreed to by the Senate), was also the bill into which Alaska Senator Ted Stevens had tried to place opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling—an attempt that was defeated.

Section 329 of the bill instructs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the use of ethanol by the Armed Forces and the Defense Agencies. The study is to include:

  • An evaluation of the historical utilization of ethanol fuel by the Armed Forces and the Defense Agencies;

  • A forecast of the requirements of the Armed Forces and the Defense Agencies for ethanol fuel for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2012;

  • An assessment of the current and future commercial availability of E85 ethanol fuel, including facilities for its production, storage, transportation, distribution, and commercial sale;

  • A review of the actions of the Department to coordinate with State, local, and private entities to support the expansion and use of alternative fuel refueling stations that are accessible to the public; and

  • An assessment of the fueling infrastructure on military installations in the United States, including storage and distribution facilities, that could be adapted or converted to the delivery of ethanol fuel, including an assessment of the cost, feasibility and advisability of the adaptation or conversion of such infrastructure.

The E85 report is due 1 February 2006.

Section 1090, which incorporates the language proposed by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) (earlier post) calls for the Secretaries of Energy and Defense in coordination to prepare a development plan for a national coal-to-liquids fuel program and a report on the potential use of the fuels by the Department of Defense.

The development plan is to take into consideration:

  • Technology needs and developmental barriers;

  • Economic and national security effects;

  • Environmental standards and carbon capture and storage opportunities;

  • Financial incentives;

  • Timelines and milestones;

  • Diverse regions having coal reserves that would be suitable for liquefaction plants;

  • Coal-liquid fuel testing to meet civilian and military engine standards and markets;

  • Any roles other Federal agencies, State governments, and international entities could play in developing a coal-to-liquid fuel industry.

Both the CTL development plan and report are due 90 days after the enactment of the Act.

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December 27, 2005 in Coal-to-Liquids (CTL), Ethanol, Policy | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Well, half a loaf is better than none.
It would have been to our advantage to begin extraction of the petoleum and gas from ANWR, but we can keep that in reserve.
The good news is the CTL syn-fuel. That is probably the best use of coal: Pure, sulphur free, synthetic Diesel fuel.

You mean that their F-22 raptors will drink E85 and their tanks will eat synthetic fuel? Cool... talk about energy war.

Now lets consider a nuclear carrier that can self generate liquid hydrogen with sea water to fuel its own fleet of aircraft.

(Typo in the last sentence: development plan not plant. Would that we could build a CTL plant in 90 days!)

CTL produces a nice clean-burning fuel, but its production does realease a lot of additional CO2. What we really need is a program that creates tax incentives for CTL plants to operate in the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way.

That means co-producion of electricity, fertilizer, and chemical feedstocks, and use of oxygen and hydrogen from "green" electricity to eliminate CO2 emissions. (The CO2 that would othewise have been emitted ends up as synthesis gas, boosting production.)

Incentives are needed, because the ROI from use of green electricity to produce hydrogen and oxygen will not be as high as it would be if the equivalent boost in output were obtained simply by burning more coal. The ROI will still be positive, but looking only at the bottom line, that feature isn't one that a CTO would want to defend to the board.

Coal and corn are pretty prevelant in the United States -- but what about in the locations that we're likely to be fighting wars?

Sure, tUSA's military consumes plenty of fuel in tUSA on bases, but there will always be tension between diversifying and simplifying the equipment and supply chain.

I'd bet that if the military spent some more research time and dollars on energy efficiency, they'd be able to reduce the amount of fuel in their supply chain substantially. A report done by the Rocky Mountain Institute suggested that every gallon of fuel burned by a vehicle in the battlefields requires 10 gallons in the supply chain.

Reducing dependance on foreign oil is important, but reducing dependance on fuel is even more important. I hope they keep that in mind.

E85, huh?

I thought that the armed forces (not only US, but NATO too) were moving towards JP-8 as the "universal fuel" as fast as possible.

I think that CTL, BTL and many other synthetic fuel processes can be tweaked to produce some narrow cut kerosene-like fuel such as JP-8, as well as some diesel fuel, but ethanol doesn't seem to fit in this picture.

Or perhaps E85 is only for non-combat vehicles?

I think the E85 probably is for "flex-fuel" light vehicles (which can then use gasoline where needed) while the coal-derived liquid fuels can be made into JP8 type aero fuels, diesel OR gasoline (we'll need the 15% gasoline in E85, right?). These are just guesses.

I'm pretty certain jet engines could run on ethanol, but what about when they need refuelling and only JP8 or JP4 (civilian jet fuel - is it still JP4?) is available, such as in remote locations?

I'm really glad to see "something" is being done. We also can hope that the "powers that be" also recognize the possibilities of the "thermal conversion process" invented here in the USA, which allows sewage, offal, garbage etc. to be converted into crude oil!

As for building plants, hey, if we had the will power (and we should have it), we could build the infrastructure in 90 days, no problem. We'd have to bypass all the bureaucratic bullsh!t - but look at World War II. Just for one example, on East Grand Blvd. Detroit right now, there is a windowless brick building attached to the old Packard factory which was built in about 30 days, with bricklayers working 24/7, in order to have workspace to produce Rolls-Royce Merline V12 aero engines.

Thanks for the typo spotting!


I think the E85 probably is for "flex-fuel" light vehicles (which can then use gasoline where needed)

Sure. FFV:s don't cost much more than normal gasoline only cars. But, the US military seems pretty serious about going for JP-8. They even made a JP-8 powered motorcycle (google for "M1030M1").


coal-derived liquid fuels can be made into JP8 type aero fuels, diesel OR gasoline (we'll need the 15% gasoline in E85, right?).

My understanding is that while these thermochemical processes can produce a gasoline-like fuel, it has pretty bad octane (straight hydrocarbon chains instead of branched which are needed for high octane). This is of course no problem when producing fuel for diesel or turbine engines. Thus, the focus on biofuels for otto engines seems to be concentrated on ethanol.


I'm pretty certain jet engines could run on ethanol,
but what about when they need refuelling and only JP8 or JP4

Yes, it's possible to run turbines on ethanol, IIRC Embraer produces some business jet certified for it. AFAIK turbines can drink almost any gas or liquid, except for heavy bunker oil.

In addition to the availability you mention, the problem is energy density and safety. Ethanol has an energy density only about 2/3 of that of kerosene, and from a safety perspective it resembles gasoline, while kerosine is pretty much like diesel. These are obviously also important factors for the military.


(civilian jet fuel - is it still JP4?)

No, it's Jet A-1. The military JP-8 is essentially Jet A-1 with some additives. JP-4 or its civilian variant Jet B, in contrast, is a wide cut kerosene, roughly speaking its properties resemble a mixture of JP-8 (diesel-like as I mentioned above) and gasoline. In case anyone is interested in aviation fuels take a look here.


As for building plants, hey, if we had the will power (and we should have it), we could build the infrastructure in 90 days, no problem. We'd have to bypass all the bureaucratic bullsh!t - but look at World War II. Just for one example, on East Grand Blvd. Detroit right now, there is a windowless brick building attached to the old Packard factory which was built in about 30 days, with bricklayers working 24/7, in order to have workspace to produce Rolls-Royce Merline V12 aero engines.

Yes, it's amazing what they were able to do back then. The Liberty ships being another example of doing stuff really really fast. The record was 4 days, which is pretty amazing for a 7000 ton ship.

Coal-to-liquid plants will drive up CO2 emissions even faster than we already are. Economic means to capture carbon or store it are non-existent. This provision in the defense bill is just more pork to subsidize the coal industry.

E85 is as mentioned before 15% normal bensin and the rest etanol. Converting an engine to run on E85 is simple and there are allready a couple of cars on the market running on E85 such as the SAAB 9-5 BioPower and Ford. There are lots of good features about with the environment in mind and the fact that you get more horsepower out of the engine. Lite the SAAB engine normaly produces 150 hp running with bensin (gasoline) but with E85 produces 180 hp. SAAB is currently working on an engine that's running on E100 (100% Etanol) and they are already finished with the engine, just some minor fine tuning left regarding starting the engine in cold temperatures.

The opposition to CTL by the Luddites is truly amazing to behold. Once these conservative thinkers get the mind-lock that "Coal is bad", nothing can convince them otherwise. It becomes a mantra.
Another mantra of the conservative thinkers is "Global Warming". The data still does not support GM, no matter what the voices in their heads are telling them.
Luddites live in a world of their own, and data need not dare intrude on their "thought processes." If any.

Someone was asking if the military was moving to the universal use of JP-8. In my experience, as a member of the military, the answer is yes they already have. My 5-ton truck runs on JP-8 as does my commander’s HMV. It is ironic that JP-8 and it’s derivatives are used in so many applications. I.E. JP-10 (Dicyclopentadiene C10 H12 ) has been used by the X planes to achieve hypersonic speeds (greater than mach 5). It has a higher viscosity than JP-8 and Im sure it lacks the additives but is seems kind of basic to be used in such an advanced application as hypersonic aircraft.

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