The 2013 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, scheduled for amendments in Washington, DC as early as today, presents a chance to ramp up production of military biofuels. Domestic biofuels, like those produced from algae, will make our military less dependent on steadily increasing oil prices or the production capacity of other nations.
One way to accelerate commercial production of domestic biofuels is through a change to the energy and water act supported by the Algal Biomass Organization, the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA), the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Airlines for America, and the National Farm Bureau Federation that would build on ongoing efforts by the military to use biofuels as a way to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
A special thanks goes to Senator John Tester (D-MT) for supporting this change to the energy and water bill, which would allow the Department of Energy to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) fund to support an interagency initiative that would advance the use of biofuels in military vehicles, planes and ships.
Advanced, drop-in biofuels offer a viable alternative to conventional petroleum-based fuels for defense applications and have been demonstrated in myriad weapon systems. The U.S. Air Force has already completed certifying its entire aircraft fleet to operate on a blend of 50% synthetic jet fuel and is moving to certify other alternatives. The Navy is in the process of approving hydrotreated renewable jet fuels, synthetics and other alternatives.
As these certifications have shown, advanced biofuels and other alternatives can replace military fuels derived from crude oil without disruptions or changes to existing equipment or infrastructure while reducing dependence upon imports.
This initiative will build on past DPA successes that have resulted in domestic production capacity for valued defense materials such as silicon carbide ceramics (used in nuclear reactors), indium phosphide and gallium arsenide (used in lasers and semiconductors), as well as aluminum and titanium, which are ubiquitous in nearly all major weapons systems.
Success in this initiative will provide the military with more secure sources of fuel, and help catalyze the biofuel industry’s efforts to supply our nation with domestic alternative fuels.