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DESC Awards Solazyme Contract for Naval Renewable F-76 from Algae, Sustainable Oils Contract for Renewable JP-5 from Camelina

The Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) awarded an estimated $8.5-million contract to Solazyme, Inc. for an algae-oil derived renewable F-76 shipboard fuel for the US Navy. DESC also awarded Sustainable Oils, LLC a $2.7-million contract for Hydrotreated Renewable HRJ-5 for Navy aviation use. The Navy currently consumes 34.5 million barrels of fuels per year: 42% of that is for aviation, 40% for ships.

The DESC is a field activity of the DLA. As the Department of Defense’s combat logistics support agency, DLA is responsible for providing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, other federal agencies, and joint and allied forces with a variety of logistics, acquisition and technical services. The Navy’s present base of petroleum-derived mobility fuels includes:

  • JP-5 (at-sea)
  • JP-8 (shore)
  • Commercial Jet
  • F-76
  • Marine Gas Oil
  • Diesel Fuel Marine

The Navy also counts nuclear as a mobility fuel. While exploring a broad portfolio of fuels for the future, including petroleum, nuclear, hydrogen and solar, the Navy is looking closely at the replacement of its petroleum fuels with bio-derived fuels. Tactical goals include a biofuel Super Hornet F/A-18 (earlier post) and a Green Carrier Strike group. Overall challenges include 20+ ship classes; 107 diesel engine models; 7 gas turbine models; 3 boiler models; and operational issues.

While these contracts are now awarded, we expect more to be announced shortly. DESC’s mission is to provide the DoD, other government agencies and our customers with energy solutions in the most efficient and economical manner possible. With the continued growing technology in the alternative fuels and renewable energy field, our energy solutions continue to expand—and this first step with algae oil derived F-76 is an excellent example. We are moving forward.

—Kim Huntley, Director of the DESC

Renewable F-76. Under the contract, Solazyme will produce 20,055 gallons of the algae-derived product that will meet the specifications of F-76. F-76 Naval Distillate is similar to diesel fuel and is the primary shipboard fuel used by the Navy for shipboard diesels, gas turbines, and boilers. F-76 has better cold flow properties than a typical ASTM D975 diesel, and allows the Navy to use the same fuel whether they are in warm waters or in polar regions.

Solazyme will utilize its innovative large-scale algal oil production process to provide renewable F-76 Naval Distillate fuel for testing and fuel certification to demonstrate it meets all military specifications and functional requirements. Like Solazyme’s renewable SoladieselRD (earlier post), the renewable F-76 will be produced from algal oil that is deoxygenated and hydrogenated to produce a drop-in renewable hydrocarbon fuel replacement. Solazyme has proprietary strains of algae that make oils that are an excellent feedstock for refining into F-76, according to the company.

The properties of the proprietary Solazyme algal oil which make it suitable for F-76 make it equally appropriate for other fuels including D975. Put a different way, the same proprietary core technology supports the production of a range of different renewable hydrocarbon fuels.

The fuels made with our algal technology reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 85% versus standard petroleum based fuels. We are honored to be working with the US Navy to develop one of the world’s newest and cleanest fuels.

—Jonathan Wolfson, Solazyme’s CEO

Hydrotreated Renewable HRJ-5. DESC awarded Sustainable Oils a contract for 40,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel. The fuel will be delivered to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) fuels team in 2009 and will support the Navy’s certification testing program of alternative fuels. The contract includes an option to supply up to an additional 150,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel.

Our camelina-based biojet fuel has already performed as well its petroleum counterparts in aviation tests involving a Boeing 747-300. We’re expecting similar performance with different, and even more demanding aircraft. I can think of nothing more appropriate for our nation’s defense aircraft than to be running on domestically-produced fuel.

—Scott Johnson, president of Sustainable Oils

Camelina was selected by the DESC because it does not compete with food crops, has been proven to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent, and has already been successfully tested in a commercial airline test flight. In addition, camelina has naturally high oil content, is drought tolerant and requires less fertilizer and herbicides. It is an excellent rotation crop with wheat, and it can also grow on marginal land.

Sustainable Oils has the largest camelina research program in the US. The company’s camelina breeding program began in 2005 and has steadily expanded to include more than 140 trials across North America from 2005-2009. The company is also evaluating more than 90 breeding populations of camelina to analyze agronomic and oil qualities and to develop new high-yielding varieties. Sustainable Oils leverages biotechnology resources from its Seattle-based agricultural biotech parent company Targeted Growth.

A life cycle analysis (LCA) of jet fuel created from camelina conducted at Michigan Tech University in conjunction with UOP LLC, a Honeywell Company, and Sustainable Oils found that the renewable fuel reduces carbon emissions by 80% compared to petroleum jet fuel.

In January, Sustainable Oils sourced the camelina for Japan Airlines’ biojet demonstration flight, whose biofuel blend was comprised primarily of camelina. (Earlier post.) In August, camelina again performed under high-test conditions in a 100% blend of fuel powering the Boeing U-787 hydroplane in a series of demonstration laps at the Seafair Cup in Seattle.



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