October 26th, 2010
10:13 AM ET

Navy boat uses algae-based fuel on way to 'green fleet'

Sailors conduct maneuvers in the Navy's experimental riverine command boat Friday off Norfolk, Virginia.

The U.S. Navy has used a biofuel to operate a boat at full power for the first time, the Pentagon announced, and it plans to create an alternatively fueled carrier strike group within two years.

An experimental riverine command boat zipped through the water Friday at the Norfolk, Virginia, naval base, burning a 50/50 blend of algae-based fuel and a water-free diesel known as HR-D, the Navy said in a press release.

Earlier this year, the Navy flew an F-18 Hornet fighter jet – nicknamed the Green Hornet – on a blend of camelina-based fuel and gasoline, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said at an energy security forum at the Pentagon. Camelina is a plant that produces oily seeds similar to flax.

Moving away from petroleum-based fuels will increase national security and keep American service personnel safer, Mabus said.

“Getting a gallon of gasoline to a Marine at Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan is not easy,” he said. “Every single day, young sailors, Marines, soldiers and airmen guard those vulnerable fuel convoys as they move from the logistics hubs to our FOBs.  Gasoline is the single thing we import the most into Afghanistan.”

The Navy plans to launch a carrier strike group – about 10 ships – powered entirely by alternative fuels, including nuclear, the Navy said. Those ships will be activated as the Great Green Fleet in 2016.

"Going green is about combat capability and assuring Navy's mobility," said Rear Adm. Philip Cullom, director of the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, which leads the Navy's Task Force on Energy. "It is not just about natural security; it also strengthens national security. By having reliable and abundant alternate sources of energy, we will no longer be held hostage by any one source of energy, such as petroleum.

"First and foremost, energy conservation extends tactical range of our forces while also preserving precious resources. Our goal, as a Navy, is to be an 'early adopter' of new technologies that enhance national security in an environmentally sustainable way."

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Filed under: Energy • Military • Nuclear • U.S. • U.S. Navy
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Bob & Doug

    You know how to handle one of those big rigs?

    October 26, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. jackson

    cool beans....way to go Navy and Air Force.

    October 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bond, James Bond

    i shall notify Q immeadiatly. I just gotta get me one of those

    October 26, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ED

    check out OriginOil. They have a unique method for extracting oil from algae.

    October 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. b cole

    Major University Admits Hard Science Problems Relating to Algae Have Been Solved

    Arizona State University Senior Vice President Rick Shangraw recenty said "…algae will “deliver soon” because…most of the hard science problems science problems regarding algae have been solved…Now…it’s largely an engineering problem."

    The National Algae Association’s Engineering Consortium has resolved the engineering problems in its development of plans and specifications for a 100-acre build-out turnkey algae production system, and its financial team has developed CAPEX and OPEX financial models showing positive cash flow.

    October 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim Brieske

    I do not believe this story. Merely propaganda, put out by a democrat president's staff whose time is running out.
    I know, they developed a space vehicle that runs on hydrogen. They suck in the hydrogen from space and can travel forever. Same principle but more efficient and usefull.
    Going to ride around sucking up algae during war time? Just write something stupid you democrat people. Like oh how nice, we've made our warships environmentally friendly. Now it doesn't matter if they use them to kill people. We love war now. President Obama you are our hero.
    Nice job not arresting Julian Assange too. Even though the actual truth is, American soldiers will be killed because of him.
    You wonder why you people are going to be made irrelavant.
    jim

    October 26, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack Napiare

    Guess you don't have to worry about cleaning out the tank.

    July 27, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mable

    Awesome! That rocks because we can save penguins and polar bears! :)

    December 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |