Saturday, March 26, 2011

Camelina to Supersonic Goes Ahead

The US Air Force used to be the leading military service to moving a greener future. In the past couple of years the Department of the Navy has already taken over the Air Force. But USAF has not yet given up.

On 18 March 2011, an F-22 Raptor took off at Edwards Air Force Base powered by a 50/50 fuel blend of conventional petroleum-based JP-8 and biofuel derived from camelina. Testing consisted of air starts, operability, and performance at different speeds and altitude throughout the flight envelope. The F-22 Raptor performed several maneuvers including a supercruise (supersonic flight without using the engine's afterburner). (F-22 Raptor flown on synthetic biofuel).

A year ago, in April 2010 a Navy F/A-18 aircraft flew on a 50/50 blend of camelina-based biofuel and JP-5. In November 2010 a test flight of an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter was successfully performed by using the same fuel blend. Winter 2011 issue of Currents, The Navy’s Environmental Magazine, gives a very good summary of the Navy’s efforts from Camelina Seed to Supersonic flight.

Just three days after the USAF’s F-22 test, the US Marine Corps announced on 21 March 2011, its Expeditionary Energy Strategy.

The strategy spans the full spectrum of Marine operations, from Bases to Battlefield. The Strategy, as it applies to installations, is based on the CMC’s Facilities Energy and Water Management Program Campaign Plan (“Ten by ‘10”). These goals, developed as a proactive response to federal energy and water mandates, set the Marine Corps on the path toward efficient and judicious use of resources. The Strategy expands on the Ten by ‘10, incorporates commercial vehicle energy usage, and provides additional guidance and specific actions required to implement the strategy.

In a separate post I will discuss Marine Corps and energy. I will also comment on its new energy strategy but so far my only comment is that USMC Expeditionary Energy Office should do something with its abbreviation —E2O- and find something less confusing.

Finally, I would like to quote the conclusion of Dr Fred C. Beach in his article DoD’s Addiction to Oil: Is there a Cure?, appeared on the IAGS Journal of Energy Security on 15 March 2011: “If DoD is serious about reducing their use of petroleum based liquid fuels to minimize their vulnerability to fluctuating oil prices, to reduce the logistics burden of transporting millions of gallons of aviation fuel around the globe and to limit their contribution to green house gases, they have a large part of the solution in hand. Their sincerity in doing so will be revealed not by listening to what they say but rather by watching what they do.”
In my opinion his last sentence should be revisited. What important is not what we are watching today but what we will be seeing five years later.


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