Fueling the Navy's Great Green Fleet with Advanced Biofuels

December 14, 2011

From transporting the oil necessary to fuel jets and vehicles to supplying battery packs to infantry, energy plays a central role in almost everything the U.S. military does. Because of this reliance, it’s imperative that the military cultivate energy sources that are not subject to the whims of outside nations. While renewables like solar are playing a large role in this effort, advanced biofuels produced domestically are rapidly becoming another choice for transportation fuel.

The latest milestone in this effort to secure our energy supply is the December 5 announcement that the Defense Logistics Agency has signed a contract to purchase 450,000 gallons of domestically produced advanced drop-in biofuel on behalf of the Navy. This agreement builds off of a recent partnership between the Navy, DOE, and the Department of Agriculture to invest up to $510 million to produce advanced biofuels for military and commercial transportation—and it represents the largest of purchase of biofuel ever undertaken by the U.S. government.

By 2016, the Navy plans to deploy a Great Green Fleet powered entirely by alternative fuels. The advanced biofuels that will help fuel the Navy's proposed ships and planes could be made from a variety of biomass ingredients, in a number of regions across the country.

So, what's behind the rise of biofuels? In large part, it's been significant advancements in the pursuit of a better recipe for biofuels. Instead of processing commodities that might otherwise be used for food, next generation fuels can be produced from a variety of ingredients including those from dedicated energy crops like switchgrass, to the non-edible parts of corn plants, to unmarketable wood from the lumber industry—taking resources that would otherwise go to waste and using them to fuel our energy independence. See the Energy Blog post.