Independence, efficiencies and warfighting effectiveness fuel Navy’s focus on energy alternatives

By Edward Lundquist at December 29, 2010 05:53
Filed Under: Navy insights

Aircraft and ships can run on biofuels

Independence, efficiencies and warfighting effectiveness fuel Navy’s focus on energy alternatives

By Edward Lundquist


The Navy is turning to alternative sources of fuel for both tactical and shore applications, according to Rear Adm. Philip Cullom, the director for Energy and Environmental Readiness on the Chief of Naval Operations staff and the architect of the Navy’s Task Force Energy.

“The Navy is focused on testing and validating alternative fuels and being an early adopter of those fuels that serve as drop-in replacements for current petroleum-based fuels.  The Navy is currently testing a camelina-based biofuel blend of JP5 and an algae-based biofuel blend of F76,” Cullom says.  “Improving efficiency reduces the amount of fuel required and increases the capability of our systems.  The Navy’s energy programs are focused on increasing combat capability by making energy a tactical and strategic advantage, not allowing it to be limiting liability.”


Rear Adm. Philip H. Cullum, director of the Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, briefs civic and military leaders before a demonstration of the Riverine Command Boat (Experimental) (RCB-X).  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gregory N. Juday/Released)

Energy efficiency through innovative technology and policy initiatives is critical for the Navy.

“For our forces afloat, increased efficiencies improve time on station, time between refueling, or extending the range of our platforms,” Cullom says.  “Most of our current systems require energy dense liquid fuels.  Biofuels, obtained from a variety of sources available domestically, will provide drop-in replacements to petroleum and in doing so protect the Navy and nation from vulnerabilities associated with volatile fuel supply and price fluctuations.

A recent test flight using a 50/50 blend of camelina-based biofuel and petroleum aboard an F/A 18 Hornet, dubbed the “Green Hornet,” demonstrated the viability of biofuels as a drop-in combat fuel across the full operating range of the Navy’s front line aircraft.  Subsequent tests on an MH-60S Helo and small surface craft have demonstrated that the biofuel is indistinguishable in performance from petroleum to the operator.

SOUTH CHINA SEA (Nov. 17, 2010) Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Robert Loughbom inspects a sample of JP-5 jet fuel aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Dubuque (LPD 8) during a refueling at sea with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO 197).  Will bio-fuels be a future energy source for Navy battle groups?  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David McKee/Released)

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has called for the establishment of the “Green Strike Group.” Cullom says that goal has two parts.  “First, by 2012, we will demonstrate in local operations the ability to use biofuel to support the various elements of a Carrier Strike Group.  Simultaneously, we will demonstrate energy efficiency initiatives that have been incorporated into those platforms.  By 2016, the Navy will sail a Carrier Strike Group fully loaded with biofuel.  We are working closely with the Defense Logistics Agency - Energy (DLA-E) to provide our demand signals to industry, which includes the long term goal of substituting biofuel for 8 million barrels of petroleum by 2020.”

“We look for science and technology that give us that leap ahead “next big thing” type of capability, said Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, Chief of Naval Research.  “The research we sponsor will focus on those areas that deliver the biggest payoff for our future and ensure we make every single dollar count for maximum benefit for the warfighters.”

Carr said the Navy seeks the best and brightest minds in academia and industry to be aware of and look at the Navy’s priorities and needs, including power and energy, and help deliver innovative solutions.  “We need to know how we can get more efficient use of the fuels we have, and leverage alternative fuels like biofuels.”

Decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels "will make us better warfighters," Mabus said.

 Captain Edward Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.), is a principal science writer for MCR LLC.


NORFOLK (Oct. 22, 2010) Sailors assigned to Riverine Group 1 stand their post aboard Riverine Command Boat (Experimental) (RCB-X) as the boat conducts test runs at Naval Station Norfolk. The RCB-X is powered by an alternative fuel blend of 50 percent algae-based and 50 percent NATO F-76 fuels to support the Secretary of the Navy's efforts to reduce total energy consumption on naval ships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Clifford L. H. Davis/Released)








Comments (3) -

Major University Admits Hard Science
Problems Relating to Algae Have Been Solved

Arizona State University Senior Vice President Rick Shangraw recenty said "…algae will “deliver soon” because…most of the hard science problems science problems regarding algae have been solved…Now…it’s largely an engineering problem."

The National Algae Association’s Engineering Consortium has resolved the engineering problems in its development of plans and specifications for a 100-acre build-out turnkey algae production system, and its financial team has developed CAPEX and OPEX financial models showing positive cash flow.

b cole |     12/29/2010 1:12:28 PM #

The REAL question is does the DOE really want to get off of foreign oil or do they want to continue funding grants to researchers to keep them employed at universities for ANOTHER 50 YEARS?  Look at all the taxpayer money spent on research to get the US off of foreign oil and what are the results?

anonymous |     1/6/2011 10:44:22 AM #

An investigation needs to be conducted on how much taxpayer money has been spent over the last 50 years on research to get the US off of foreign oil and what were the results.

anonymous |     1/6/2011 11:25:39 AM #

Comments are closed

Tag cloud