US military to make jet fuel from algae

Feb 16, 2010 by Lin Edwards report
algae

(PhysOrg.com) -- If military researchers in the US are right, jet fuel produced from algae may soon be available for about the same price as ordinary jet fuels.

The military is the largest single consumer of energy in the US, and a cheap alternative to would reduce the 60-75 million barrels of oil currently consumed by military operations.

Scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have already successfully extracted oil from algal ponds, and is now about to begin large-scale refining of the oil. Special assistant for energy with DARPA, Barbara McQuiston, said unrefined oil produced from algae currently costs $2 per gallon, but the cost is projected to reduce to around $1. The refined and processed jet fuel is expected to cost under $3 per gallon.

The refining operation would produce 50 million gallons of oil derived from algae each year and is expected to begin full-scale operations in 2011. Each acre of algal farm pond can produce 1,000 gallons of oil. The projects are run by private companies General Atomics and SAIC.

One advantage of algae over other biofuels such as ethanol derived from corn or sugar is that they do not compete with land use for food, and algae can be grown in brackish water or . The fuel theoretically produces zero carbon emissions, since all the CO2 released when the fuel is burned was absorbed from the atmosphere by the algae in the first place. Even when processing and transportation are taken into account, the fuel is still low carbon.

DARPA aims to obtain 50 per cent of all military-use fuel from renewable sources by 2016, and the Air Force plans to test a 50-50 mix of and sources in its jet fighters and transport planes by next year. The driving force is not just money, but also the desire to create jet fuel in locations such as Afghanistan, where supply convoys are particularly prone to attack. Creating fuel in the field would not only save money and lives, but the infrastructure would be left behind to enable the production of sustainable fuel supplies to continue.

The Chinese government has also been looking at the possibility of using produced from algae, and many commercial airlines are doing the same.

Explore further: Renewable energy companies use new clout in statehouses

Related Stories

Coal-based jet fuel poised for next step

Mar 27, 2006

A jet fuel comparable to Jet A or military JP 8, but derived from at least 50 percent bituminous coal, has successfully powered a helicopter jet engine, according to a Penn State fuel scientist. "Because the fuel is 50 percent ...

U.S. Navy Plans to Test Biofuels for Super Hornet

Aug 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The U.S. Navy is getting ready to run flight tests using an assortment of biofuels. The tests will be run using an F/A-18 Super Hornet. The tests are scheduled to begin taking place at Patuxent ...

Recommended for you

Renewable energy companies use new clout in statehouses

Dec 24, 2014

Earlier this year, Ohio became the first state to freeze a scheduled increase in the amount of electricity that must be generated by wind, solar and other renewable sources. The move gave advocates of repealing states' mandatory ...

America's place in the sun: Energy report sets goal

Dec 24, 2014

A recent energy report said that America should build on the recent growth in solar energy by setting a goal of obtaining at least 10 percent of its electricity from solar power by 2030. "Star Power: The ...

Nevada, feds to study nuke-waste burial in state

Dec 23, 2014

Nevada and the federal government are agreeing to have a panel keep studying whether the U.S. will bury radioactive material from Tennessee at a former nuclear weapons proving ground north of Las Vegas.

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ThomasS
4 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2010
$3 a gallon is still very cheap! this proves that millitary funding can definitely help real-world problems.
Topperfalkon
not rated yet Feb 17, 2010
Wouldn't it make more sense to say that the oil is carbon neutral rather than zero emissions?

Fair enough it's just an issue of semantics, but it does kind of put across the wrong image.
sysop
1 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2010
This is complete garbage, reverse hype psychology, they are obfuscating, the news is far better than what they say, they do not want the public to get involved, just like how they make such a big deal about super-mini-hybrid paper-mache cars that get 35 miles per gallon, when certain conventional, non-hybrid 1999 Honda got 45-50 miles per gallon !!!

We hear that 60,000 gallons of carbon neutral algae diesel can be produced per acre per year.

more here: http://teaminfini...ae.shtml & here: http://RoboEco.com/Obama

Did you try this out yourself, why are you so trusting of "experts" who have been caught over and over again lying, twisting data and taking advantage of the public to secure their position above those who trust them ?

How do you really know unless you try it yourself ?
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2010
50 million gallons of fuel is nice... but the USAF ALONE uses 2.6 billion gallons. As usual, politics are interfering with defense policies. You can either tell us what to do or how to do it, you can't do both

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.