The weedy little plant is slowly but steadily growing a fan base in the U.S. Air Force.
As reported by the Air Force’s Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes on Wednesday, the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing has been conducting extensive field tests of a 50-50 blend of camelina biofuel and conventional fuel on F-16 fighter jets and so far the results are promising.
The camelina tests are just one part of an Air Force program to achieve fleetwide certification for a range of biofuel blends by 2013. So far, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-15 Eagle, the C-17 Globemaster III, and the F-22 Raptor have been tested and certified.
Along with camelina, the Air Force is testing biofuels using other seed oils, animal and vegetable fats, and waste greases.
Part of the Air Force’s goal in certifying the new blends is to ensure that they are “drop-in” ready. That not only means they can substitute for JP-8 without sacrificing performance in the air, but they can also do not require any engine modifications or changes in the fueling infrastructure including transportation, storage, pumps and hoses.
That saves money on crew training as well as on equipment and maintenance.
Last summer, President Obama announced a new partnership between the Navy, Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy to get more biofuels including algae into production, as part of his much-publicized bus tour through the Midwest.
The Navy has also teamed up with shipping giant Maersk to test algae biofuel on ocean going cargo ships, and it has partnered with the U.S. biofuel company OriginOil to produce a drop-in algae biofuel that conforms to both the Navy’s standards and NATO fuel standards, with the ultimate goal of establishing a network of algae biorefineries in strategic regions around the globe.
One emerging strategic regions would be the Asia Pacific, as described in January by President Obama in a major speech on national defense, and in that regard the Navy and OriginOil are already on the job.
Last month, OriginOil announced the formation of an algae biofuel venture to begin constructing biorefineries in Australia and the U.S., and also last month Navy personnel attended a major biofuel conference in Australia to promote its interest in the international biofuel market.
What was it that Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you…?”
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