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Navy Joins Energy, Agriculture Departments in Biofuel Effort

From a White House News Release

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2014 — As part of a 2011 presidential directive, the Departments of Navy, Energy, and Agriculture announced today that three companies have been awarded contracts to construct and commission biorefineries capable of producing “drop-in” biofuels to meet the transportation needs of the military and private sector.

“The contracts being announced today will help expand the operational capability of our Navy and Marine Corps around the world,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said. “In today’s complex fiscal environment, we are balancing our mission with our resources and we must be innovative and forward-thinking. Programs like these help keep our operational capabilities on the cutting edge. This is how sailors and Marines defend our great nation.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that any time the U.S. military can use more American-grown fuels instead of relying on foreign sources, it makes the armed forces more energy secure. “And the expansion of our advanced biofuel sector means the creation of good jobs across the country, especially in many of our rural communities," he added.

A reliable, cost-effective alternative

Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said advanced biomass-based transportation fuels have the potential to provide a reliable and cost-effective alternative to traditional fuel sources. “By advancing technologies that reduce our carbon emissions,” he explained, “this multi-agency partnership is demonstrating that by protecting our energy and environmental security, we will enhance our national security as well.”

In total, these projects will produce more than 100 million gallons of military grade fuel beginning in 2016 and 2017 at a price competitive with their petroleum counterparts, officials said.

The drop-in alternative fuels can be blended at a 50/50 ratio with traditional fossil fuels. This blend was successfully demonstrated for ships and planes during the 2012 Rim of the Pacific exercise, showing that this fuel can be used in the Navy’s warfighting platforms with no degradation to performance or mission.

As these fuels become more available, officials said, the Navy will make advanced drop-in biofuel a regular part of its bulk fuel procurement.