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USDA and Department of the Navy Sign Agreement to Encourage Development of Advanced Biofuels and Renewable Energy Systems

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Navy (DoN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.

The military alone uses more than 90% of the energy consumed by the Federal Government, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in remarks at the signing of the MoU, and the Federal Government uses about 2% of all the energy consumed in America. “Changing the Navy’s pattern of energy consumption and our sources of power, and working with Agriculture to support renewable energy and biofuel projects around the country, we can and we will have a broad and measurable impact on the national energy landscape.

We are already taking the first steps. Last fall, we conducted an F/A-18 Hornet jet engine test at Pax River, running on a biofuel blend made from camelina, a plant related to mustard that can be grown throughout the United States. I do have to admit that I was a newcomer to camelina, but the F/A-18 engine didn’t know the difference, even when it was put on full afterburner. Pretty soon, we’ll move beyond these ground tests and conduct flights with our very own Green Hornet. And we are moving to expand the testing of biofuel blends in our Marine Gas Turbines that we use in the surface Navy, and to our tactical vehicles, like the one sitting here today.

—Secretary Mabus

From a strategic perspective the objective is to reduce reliance on fossil fuels from volatile areas of the world. Tactically, on the battlefield, the costs of transporting fuel is exponentially increased; in extreme cases a gallon of gasoline could cost up to $400. In addition, Mabus said, fuel convoys often meet a lethal enemy. To address this reality, Mabus announced five energy targets for the Navy and Marine Corps during the 2009 Naval Energy Forum last October (earlier post); biofuels are a major component of four of those goals.

Those targets are:

  • When awarding contracts, appropriately consider energy efficiency and the energy footprint as additional factors in acquisition decisions.

  • By 2012, demonstrate a Green Strike Group composed of nuclear vessels and ships powered by biofuel.

  • By 2016 sail the Strike Group as a Great Green Fleet composed of nuclear ships, surface combatants equipped with hybrid electric alternative power systems running on biofuel, and aircraft running on biofuel.

  • By 2015 cut petroleum use in its 50,000 non-tactical commercial fleet in half, by phasing in hybrid, flex fuel and electric vehicles.

  • By 2020 produce at least half of shore based installations’ energy requirements from alternative sources. Also 50% of all shore installations will be net zero energy consumers. By 2020 half of DoN’s total energy consumption for ships, aircraft, tanks, vehicles and shore installations will come from alternative sources.

The Department of the Navy recently established a Naval Energy Office to develop and employ proven business models and investment strategies that leverage public and private investment to achieve naval, defense, and national energy goals.

The MOU complements USDA and The Navy and Marine Corps’ existing renewable energy programs and efforts. USDA has a variety of programs and services that support renewable energy development.


Henry Gibson

I guess that the department of agriculture must know what devastation will be wreaked upon the forests and meadows of the US to grow enough crops to make biofuels sufficient for the military and civilian populations, but they are ignoring the facts and hoping that the madness will go away, but now they want all the money and attention that biofuels will bring.

The navy has always had petroleum reserve areas and if it wishes a secure supply of fuels it should build coal to liquid factories at the major opencast mines in Wyoming. The airlines have determined that such faclities will be profitable if the price of crude remaind above 35 dollars. It could also build such facilities on Pacific islands and import coal from Australia. Crude oil has a unit energy cost sometimes more than 20 times that of coal. Even at ten times the cost, gasoline can be made from coal that costs less than ten cents per gallon of product; it is similar to a three dollar loaf of bread made from ten cents worth of wheat. ..HG..


Henry Gibson obviously you've never been on a farm or if you have your are slow.

Have you ever heard of rotation crops?

When you grind the camelina seeds up you get feed meal. You can feed feed to animals. Animals eat feed to live.

If you can't understand this email I will type it slower.


Plus we're not talking about replacing all the fuel. Once we switch to diesel we'll gain 1/4 efficiency so less fuel used. If this helps offset our imported oil that's good.

Do you know anything about the military and the logistics of hualing fuel? Then keep your mouth shut if you have nothing of value to say. Just listen.


Plus camelina only needs like 10 inches of rain a year to grow so its not displacing food crops... necessarily and you scatter the seeds (no intense plowing).

Plus you or me can refine camelina this will give normal people power.

Maybe your not normal maybe your a computer generated filth spewer designed by...?

Who are you? What are you? Human?


Plus this will help the pheasants. My grandpa tells stories of pheasants blocking out the sun. He shot them with a single shot 22 rifle. Last time I went hunting I didn't see one. The pheasants lick the plants for moisture and get poisoned. Camelina won't need as much chemicals so pheasants won't die. Plus it will give them something to eat. Think for once. Meditate on this. Think. Please.


Check your toolbox do you have more than one wrench?

Electric cars on the urban coasts and thermal heat engines for rural areas especially in the North.

Is it possible to have a closed cycle diesel engine?

Considering thermal efficiency what percent is heat energy and what percent is chemical boom energy in diesel engines?


Could you use chemical vapor deposition to turn the carbon into diamonds?

Could you put a heat exchanger between the connected intake and exhaust and power a start and stop WHE steam engine?

Then take out water and inject oxygen. You could use compress the system with 20 psi of Argon for a turbo without a turbo effect.



Stop with the insults, we do not work that way around here.


You're a funny guy, SJC.


"insults, abuse or wild diversions are not..."

I am laughing all the way to the ban email to Mike, that is how funny I am.


Making 6 responses to yourself isn't the way we do things around here either.

Seed-based biofuels are niche products by nature.  There just isn't enough land to grow enough to get close to replacing petroleum fuels.  If we're actually going to move as much stuff as we do today, in the future we are going to wind up using much more electricity on the road than bio-anything.


I wonder why the Navy hasn't considered synthesizing fuel from the nuclear power on aircraft carriers. They probably could get something to fly using liquid methane. 50-55 MJ/kg. Better than JP8.


That's a very interesting idea (I've pondered it myself), but the chemical plant would take room and liquid methane is much less dense than JP8.  Where would you find the room in the flattops, and the tankage on the fighters?


JP8 has an energy density of 33-36 MJ/liter. Liquid methane would be about 25 MJ/liter. It is lighter, though (55 MJ/kg vs. 42-45 MJ/kg for JP8). I'd think weight is just as important as density for aircraft, if not more so.

Tanks to hold liquefied methane would be a pain, though. But not impossible.

Maybe the cold fuel could help with the intercooler, not sure.


Assuming you make that work, you then have the problem of either providing LNG everywhere the US flies fighters, or making the aircraft dual-fuel.

I like the idea of LNG as airplane fuel; using it to cool the compressors and the turbines would increase engine performance and thermal efficiency.  I just don't see it as a solution for the military.



Probably right. Long term, however, using foreign oil to power our military is probably not a solution either.

Roger Pham

Fighters may have to stick with JP8 or biofuel equivalent, due to the limited space for larger LNG tank. However, military transports like the C-17, C-130, C-5 etc. have huge fuel tanks and can be adapted to run on LNG. Military bases may be provided with nuclear reactors to synthesize methane and H2 for local transportation.

Who knows, if the military pioneer on this development, may be the civilian airline industry will follow suit. High fuel costs really hurt airlines' profitability. Significant saving in fuel cost from the use of LNG and biomethane (from gasification and fermentation of waste biomass)can turn the industry around.


Calculate the size of the reactor(s) required to run a significant flight operation, and weep.


I'm sure it would be pretty bad. Assume a sortie takes about 8,000 kg of jet fuel. At 50 MJ/kg, that's 400,000 MJ or or 111,000 kW-hr-e. Assuming 50% overall efficiency (electrolysis & fuel production) you have about 200,000 kW-hr needed to make the fuel for one sortie.

Nimitz class aircraft carriers have two nuclear reactors producing about 100 MW-e apiece. Assuming all that power went to fuel production, it would take about an hour to produce the fuel for one sortie. Actually not that horrible. I was expecting something worse.

It looks like a Nimitz can hold about 3 million gallons of JP5 (I guess carriers use JP5 for greater safety). JP5 has a specific gravity of 0.8, so 8000 kg is about 2500 gallons. They carry enough fuel for 1200 sorties. I guess that's why they don't do this.... :)

I could see commercial aircraft using LNG as the cost would be lower and the ability to developed a supported infrastructure would be more reasonable. At $3 per gallon, JP-8 is about 16MJ per dollar. LNG is about $5-10 per MMBTU or per 1000MJ. That's 100MJ-200MJ per dollar. A factor of 10 less or better!

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