US military to make jet fuel from algae


( -- 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.

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Citation: US military to make jet fuel from algae (2010, February 16) retrieved 21 July 2019 from
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Feb 17, 2010
$3 a gallon is still very cheap! this proves that millitary funding can definitely help real-world problems.

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.

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: & here:

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 ?

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

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