US Navy launches first biofuel-powered warship

US Navy launches first biofuel-powered warship
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus shows Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack a fuel sample of alternative fuel
The US Navy deployed its first biofueled warship last week, powered in part by an alternative fuel made from waste beef fat provided by farmers in the country's Midwest.

The mix fuelling the USS Stockdale, produced by AltAir Fuels, is 10 per cent biofuels and 90 per cent petroleum.

The fuel was purchased through a partnership between the Department of the Navy and US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is aiming to make alternative fuel blends a regular addition to the military’s bulk operational fuel supply.

The deal is part of a US Navy initiative known as the ‘Great Green Fleet’, which aims to highlight how the Navy and Marine Corps are using energy efficiency and alternate energy to increase combat capability and operational flexibility.

According to the Associated Press, the US Defense Department is the world’s largest consumer of energy, and the Navy is responsible for over a third of that energy. All ships and aircrafts in the Navy have been certified to use biofuels.

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) awarded a contract to AltAir Fuels for 77.6 million gallons of the alternative fuel blend, at a cost to DLA of $2.05 per gallon, making it cost competitive with traditional fuel.

Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus said that the technology is evolving quickly and, in the future, biofuels made from landfill waste, wood chips and food waste may usher in lower prices. He believes that competition will grow in the alternative fuel industry to allow for a blend with a higher content of biofuels.

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture said: "The Navy's use of renewable energy in the Great Green Fleet represents its ability to diversify its energy sources, and also our nation's ability to take what would be a waste product and create homegrown, clean, advanced biofuels to support a variety of transportation needs.

"Today's deployment proves that America is on its way to a secure, clean energy future, where both defence and commercial transportation can be fuelled by our own hardworking farmers and ranchers, reduce landfill waste, and bring manufacturing jobs back to rural America."

London’s green bus fleet

By March this year, a third of all London buses will be running on a cleaner-burning diesel made in part from waste fats and oils. B20 biodiesel (containing 20 per cent biodiesel), like the warship fuel, is also made from waste products from the meat industry.

Transport for London (TfL) estimates that the switch will lead to a reduction of 21,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. A move that is vital considering that London already breached its annual air pollution limits one week into 2016.

More information about the US Navy’s biofueled warships can be found at the USDA website.