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The Military Edge from Biofuels

Yesterday at a Distinguished Speaker Breakfast in Washington, DC with Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), the topic of algae biofuels was one of the first to come up.

Several participants noted that as the U.S. looks for alternatives to imported fossil fuels, the benefits of algae lie primarily in its ability to produce drop-in biofuels that work with existing infrastructure. Gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel can all be produced from algae, and have been successfully tested in a variety of cars, truck, ships and airplanes. One attendee pointed out that the fuel we use today is made from ancient algae.

The next step is for the industry to scale-up production. But like most new technologies this requires a coordinated effort among investors, markets and regulators. One participant noted that a significant pull can come from the Department of Defense, much like what is described in today’s Wall Street Journal article on the Navy’s biofuel testing this summer.

The military has a long history of adopting new technologies that can give it an edge, and domestically produced biofuels (some algae fuels even have a higher energy density than their counterparts) can provide that edge.

If the military adopts a new technology it can give an industry a better platform from which to grow, and benefits for the U.S. economy often follow. Mark Schweiker, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, made the case in Forbes earlier this week.

Congress is reviewing the military’s use of biofuels in the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) right now, and it’s important for them to hear that the military’s use of biofuels needs support. Please ask your senator to support pro-biofuels amendments to the NDAA offered by Senator Mark Udall and others during the full Senate debate.

Navy riverine boat runs on algae-based fuel.

Navy riverine boat runs on algae-based fuel.

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