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The Navy's new Riverine Command Boat (RCB-X)  (Source: NAVY.mil)
Navy hopes to cut its fossil fuel consumption in half by 2020

It seems these days that many people/organizations are trying to go green. We have companies like Dell installing solar panels in parking lotsnumerous auto manufacturers are selling/developing full-electric and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles; and even homeowners look to reduce costs by using fluorescent lighting and eco-friendly building materials.

Not to be left out, the U.S. Navy is showing its "green" side with a new 49-foot Riverine Command Boat (RCB-X). The boat is powered by a 50/50 mix of NATO F-76 fuel and algae-based biofuel.

Although there is no talk about an increase (or penalty) in fuel efficiency by using the the fuel, it appears to be more of a policy decision with regards to stepping up the use of alternative fuels in the Navy's fleet.

"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. "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.”

As with all new and experimental technology, the price to use such fuel in this prototype vehicle is astronomical. And when we say astronomical, we mean it -- the Marine Corps Times reports that the Navy bought 20,055 gallons of algae-based biodiesel at a jaw-dropping cost of $424 per gallon.

According to Wired, the Navy uses 80,000 barrels of oil per day to fuel its ships and wishes to cut that number in half within a decade through the use of biofuels and nuclear power.

"First and foremost, energy conservation extends tactical range of our forces while also preserving precious resources," Cullom added. "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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Volume and production
By GreenEuropean on 10/28/2010 4:27:46 PM , Rating: 5
I think some people forget the thing about volume production as well as supply and demand.

If Intel made 10000 chips a year, they would cost like a million a pcs. However when you make several 100 million chips a year its a whole other matter. Or as they say, the first chip cost billions, the next cost a few dollars.




RE: Volume and production
By mcnabney on 10/28/2010 4:38:18 PM , Rating: 5
Why are you trying to insert reason into a discussion regarding government inefficiency and smelly hippies?


RE: Volume and production
By GreenEuropean on 10/28/2010 4:52:52 PM , Rating: 5
I see you point. Its like trying to make blind people see.

On another note, I guess the navy is trying it out in small scale first. See how it affects engines in the long run and test performance before their scale it up and make the price drop like a rock.


RE: Volume and production
By jhb116 on 10/28/2010 7:19:26 PM , Rating: 2
An optimist I see. In cases like this - it is usually pushed by the civilian gov't, potentially by Obama himself. This far exceeds those $500 hammers considering ships that size likely use on the order of 1000's (10's or 100's of thousands?) of gallons of fuel per day - depending on operational requirements


RE: Volume and production
By tastyratz on 10/28/2010 8:48:43 PM , Rating: 1
I am going to go out on a limb here, but I am going to guess that ships this size are not going to use 100s of thousands of gallons a day since the article states their consumption averages 80,000 gallons a day.

Does it use a lot of fuel? Yes - but not that much.


RE: Volume and production
By bobsmith1492 on 10/28/2010 9:27:02 PM , Rating: 1
That's barrels, not gallons, but yes this ship wouldn't use 100k gallons a day. It's small.


RE: Volume and production
By jhb116 on 10/28/2010 10:22:52 PM , Rating: 2
The article states the 80K barrels is for the fleet which seems to make sense - I don't think that size ship would go through that much in a day. Still 20K gallons at $424 per gallon is $8,480,000. That is quite a bit more than the $60 to $70 for 20K gallons of standard diesel. I'm wondering if the $8.5M includes the development costs which usually run really high.


RE: Volume and production
By paydirt on 11/1/2010 9:46:17 AM , Rating: 2
I hope the government bought the company that produces the algae fuel PRIOR to the fuel purchase.


RE: Volume and production
By priusone on 11/2/2010 10:08:09 AM , Rating: 2
$8 million for 20,000 gallons. Someone got one hell of a kickback.


RE: Volume and production
By Lerianis on 10/29/2010 4:24:23 AM , Rating: 2
Also remember most of these things will NOT be used 24/7/365.


RE: Volume and production
By Chernobyl68 on 10/29/2010 12:15:48 PM , Rating: 2
Ships don't use $500 hammers. Aircraft do.


RE: Volume and production
By Techmandoo on 11/1/2010 6:26:06 AM , Rating: 3
What $500 hammers?

It was an accounting artifact, and an urban myth:

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-5351867...


RE: Volume and production
By MrBlastman on 10/29/2010 12:19:47 PM , Rating: 1
Now that gives me a great idea!

Smelly hippies. Think about it for a moment. What use do we have with them? They stink really bad, they have awful clothing, they listen to funky music and basically just get in the way of everything that is progress.

What can we do?

I'll tell you what we can do! Invent a smelly hippy launcher! That's right. Lets allow our armed servicemen to launch dirty hippies right into the ranks of our enemies armies.

In no time, they'll be innundated by wafting plumes of pot smoke and the calming (and coughing effect of their stench) will totally incapacitate them to the point where our tanks just have to roll in and... well, roll over them, saving tremendous expense in the form of ammunition and supplies. The best part is, we can run our tanks on biofuel while doing so just to make a statement!

Lets do this America, lets do this... today.


RE: Volume and production
By Methusela on 10/28/2010 6:54:04 PM , Rating: 5
You're absolutely right. And this is the key thing that all the additional replies (even by DT employees! *gasp*) ignores: that this is simply how basically all military industrial manufacturing contracts work. I'd even go so far as to say that reporting this shows a fundamental lack of understanding of business economics, or actual malice by purposely misleading.

As was the case with the famed $420 hammers or $1000 toilet seats, the line item contract for this fuel includes all of the R&D and equipment necessary to produce that fuel. So, it's not as if the fuel itself cost that much to produce. Meeting the particular specifications of the contract requires huge investment up front, which is the vast, vast cost of this line item.

It's something we constantly battle in politics or political science (me being a political scientist) - the media hyping something essential to the functioning of government or, in this case the military, in a way that is very obviously biased and misleading.

DT biased and misleading, you say? NEVER! ;-)


RE: Volume and production
By Galcobar on 10/28/2010 7:19:39 PM , Rating: 3
Keep in mind everyone's comparing a brand new fuel type to a very old one.

To put this in perspective, a barrel of oil in 1861 cost, in 2010 dollars, about $250. And the technological hurdle producers had to surmount to produce it was next to non-existent compared to today.


RE: Volume and production
By Dr of crap on 10/29/2010 8:31:21 AM , Rating: 1
Fine there are R & D costs.
The problem that everyone, everyone but you I guess, is that I can go down to the local hardware store and get a hammer for under $20, yet the army pays $500. It a hammer, there are no R & D cost involved. It's not a new industry!

Now as to the cost of the biofuel. Although I agree it might be expensive, $400 a gallon seems WAY over the amount I might pay if I bought. There have been stories for a long time about biofuel, and none of them stated that the cost was prohibitive to use.

I'd guess that on the open market that you might pay under $15 gallon, and yet again the Navy/Army will pay any price. That is way we ALL do not trust the govt. They spend with no regard to what the cost is. But yet they preach belt tightening and that WE should keep a budget.

Do you see the problem here?

And political scientist - not a real career is it!

Maybe you could spend your time trying to make political ads that TELL the truth! And politician that DON'T LIE! HA!


RE: Volume and production
By Denigrate on 10/29/2010 8:46:51 AM , Rating: 5
Military never paid $500 for a hammer. This is where the Black Ops budget is/was hidden.


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/29/2010 10:12:39 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The problem that everyone, everyone but you I guess, is that I can go down to the local hardware store and get a hammer for under $20, yet the army pays $500. It a hammer, there are no R & D cost involved. It's not a new industry!

On the surface, it does seem ridiculous. But when you dig deeper, it's actually justified. You just have to alter you thinking somewhat.

Yes, anyone can get a hammer for $20 at thier local hardware store. However, what is the guarantee that the coated rubber grip handle won't outgas under certain circumstances? How about in a fire that it doesn't emit toxic fumes? Or, can it be adaquately cleaned after a NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) attack with no harmful residual? Maybe it needs a certain shape to fit an existing secure tool location in a ship or tank? Wouldn't be too good when a tank takes a shell and that $20 hammer flies across the compartment into a soldier's head, would it? Imagine explaining to the widow that the government didn't want to spend an extra $480 to save thier husbands life.

What the Military bought was not an off the shelf hammer from Lowes, that some unscrupulous subcontractor got rich off.

I could go on and on, but in the end you have to make two choices. Overdesign or accept risk. The US Military has chosen (and wisely so) to overdesign every item in it's arsenel. Everything is expected to work, each and every time, under harsh circumstances. So while it may seem outrageous, there are times when it is completely justified.

I myself sold the US Navy a $5000 sledgehammer, but that was for another reason. ;P


RE: Volume and production
By Iaiken on 10/29/2010 10:33:21 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Overdesign or accept risk.


You forgot documentation.

The lounge seating aboard a military vessel comes with a price tag of around $10,000 a piece. That includes not only the over-engineering of that piece of furniture, but the documentation of:

- All the chemicals that went into it
- How those chemicals react to other chemicals
- How those chemicals react to heat/cold/pressure
- How to safely extinguish it should it catch fire

All of this information had to be gathered through expensive laboratory study.

Then if later, they need more of these couches, there will be no economy of scale and you will see them cost 2-3x as much. This is acceptable to the military as these couches would be the exact same as the others and the old documentation would still be relevant.

To you, it's just a couch, to the military, it is a piece of equipment that represents a potential chemical hazard.


RE: Volume and production
By Dr of crap on 10/29/2010 12:28:50 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry your explaintion does not justify the cost.

It would be more BUDGETWISE to pay a annual salary for someone to seach for the closest match for the spec, than to charge $500 for 100 hammers.
You see where this is going?
"They'll pay what ever I want to charge!"

The seller charges a price and the Army /Navy / whoever pays.
Doesn't think - hey, that's a bit much - just pays it.
When it not coming out of your pocket you don't look at it to much.

Maybe if the reason for the high price were to come out as well, WE might not think them so stupid as to pay $500 for a hammer!
But then it might be top secret!


RE: Volume and production
By Chernobyl68 on 10/29/2010 1:16:12 PM , Rating: 3
there is no closest match when it comes to specialized tools like that. Either the tool does what you need it to, or it doesn't.
Now, not all tools the military buys will cost this much, most don't, but the ones that do, it has to be what they need it to be.


RE: Volume and production
By monomer on 10/29/2010 3:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, $500 sounds like alot for just a hammer, but you forget that it comes with a comprehensive 3-year service agreement, and a 24 hour telephone support line should you have any technical issues relating to your use of the hammer and any accesories that you purchased for it.


RE: Volume and production
By snakeInTheGrass on 10/29/2010 3:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
We've all heard the saying, "When all you have is a $500 dollar hammer, everything looks like a $100 nail."

Makes sense though - I hear about civilian hammer accidents and deaths all the time, so I can see the reasoning here. Like when contractors put hammers into their tool chests in their pickups, get in an accident, and *BAM*!, dozens of casualties all because they didn't have enough red tape and kickbacks to hold them in place in the vehicle.


RE: Volume and production
By Dr of crap on 10/29/2010 3:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
Other the above poster, which I think agrees with me, I'm I on the wrong web site?
It's this the one where everyone rants and ravs about the cost of PCs, and cell phones, and iPads, and such?
And you all are OK with $500 hammers???

I suspose you all LIKE the polictial ads, and have voted all your life as well, thinking that the one elected will CHANGE the world!?!

Good luck with that!


RE: Volume and production
By snakeInTheGrass on 10/29/2010 4:26:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm definitely expecting the next election to fix it since I hear the politicos are going to vote to curb their own cushy revolving-door job, campaign-funding, and insider-influence thing they have going.

No, most people aren't outraged, they're lined up buying the story they're being sold, apparently. Now if you had posted about the $500 iPad (which actually does have development costs, more parts costs, etc.), the boards would be up in arms! ;)


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/29/2010 7:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sorry your explaintion does not justify the cost.

Sorry that you lack the comprehension to understand.

quote:
"They'll pay what ever I want to charge!"

Spoken like a mediawashed fool with no insite into the situation. $500 hammer, OMG, Government and Pentagon is so stupid.

Hate to break it to you, but they are not that dumb. Inefficient and misdirected, maybe, but that's another discussion.

Every cost proposal has a price breakdown listing the cost for each charge, including the testing and certification costs. Certification can cost 10X what the actual part costs, and that goes back to the prime listing that certification as a requirement. But one thing is certain, the GAO reviews these purchases and also concluded in most of them, the costs were justified.

But Dr or crap knows more than thousands of qualified individuals on this topic. Next up, you're going to tell brain surgeons that they don't need fancy medical tools, any Black and Decker cutoff saw can cut through a cranium. Fools!!!


RE: Volume and production
By drumhellar on 10/29/2010 5:31:30 PM , Rating: 2
Do the $500 hammers have these properties, though?
Or, did some contractor manage to bilk the government out of lots of cash by overcharging for common goods? There is a long history of that, specifically for military contractors.

quote:
Or, can it be adaquately cleaned after a NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) attack with no harmful residual?


In this situation, wouldn't it be better just to buy a few extra $100 hammers and dispense with the cost/difficulty of cleaning a hammer, and just replace it instead?


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/29/2010 7:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In this situation, wouldn't it be better just to buy a few extra $100 hammers and dispense with the cost/difficulty of cleaning a hammer, and just replace it instead?

Sure. Let's just stop battle and pick one up at the local corner store in that foreign country. I'm sure the enemy will wait.


RE: Volume and production
By Solandri on 10/29/2010 11:57:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do the $500 hammers have these properties, though?
I didn't work on military hardware, but I did work on military software. If the hammers had to meet specs anything like what we had for our software, then yes they probably did have to have those properties. The specs and requirements given to us for our software looked like they threw in everything they could think of that they'd like, then asked their spouses what else might be useful.

You have to keep in mind that the military folks writing the specs are still government. The officer in charge of the project gets a budget each year, and has to spend it all or it gets reduced the following year. They're very, very good at making up BS specifications to pad the bottom line.

(The exception is the Marine Corps. It has something to do with them technically being a sub-branch of the Navy. They don't control the funds they get or they have to justify every cent they spend or something. They went through their required spec list and our proposals with a fine-toothed comb, trying to cut whatever costs they could and eliminating features they felt weren't worth it.)

That's not to say there isn't any bilking going on. I'm sure there is. But the fault lies with both ends. That's why it's called the Military Industrial Complex, not the Industrial Complex which happens to make military stuff.

quote:
In this situation, wouldn't it be better just to buy a few extra $100 hammers and dispense with the cost/difficulty of cleaning a hammer, and just replace it instead?

The mindset is that in an all-out war situation, you're not going to be resupplied. Whatever equipment you have is what you're going to be stuck with, and in a contamination situation you have to assume everything will be contaminated including spares. So better make sure it can withstand anything you might encounter.


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/30/2010 11:00:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The specs and requirements given to us for our software looked like they threw in everything they could think of that they'd like, then asked their spouses what else might be useful.

That's where a bulk of the cost lies. It becomes very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Requirements review is a huge issue, and those specifing things do tend to go overboard. If certain requirements were eliminated, costs could drop dramatically. However, in doing so, that assumes some risk, something that government is not willing at this time to do.

Government contractors do make money, but on some contracts they lose money if it's bid as a firm fixed price and they overrun.

quote:
The mindset is that in an all-out war situation, you're not going to be resupplied. Whatever equipment you have is what you're going to be stuck with, and in a contamination situation you have to assume everything will be contaminated including spares. So better make sure it can withstand anything you might encounter.

Thank you. You stated it better than I could.


RE: Volume and production
By FoxFour on 10/30/2010 1:07:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I could go on and on, but in the end you have to make two choices. Overdesign or accept risk. The US Military has chosen (and wisely so) to overdesign every item in it's arsenel. Everything is expected to work, each and every time, under harsh circumstances. So while it may seem outrageous, there are times when it is completely justified.


I suspect that all the men (and the families they left behind) who've been KIA by small arms fire in Humvees might have a somewhat different outlook on this.


RE: Volume and production
By millerm277 on 11/2/2010 12:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
Humvees were not designed for what they were being used for, unfortunately for those men. They were meant as a replacement for the jeep. Getting people and stuff around. Not serving as a fighting platform on the front lines/offering protection from threats, as they were attempting to use them for...


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/29/2010 9:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
As was the case with the famed $420 hammers or $1000 toilet seats, the line item contract for this fuel includes all of the R&D and equipment necessary to produce that fuel.

Not true. The WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) should include R&D, Material, Labor, and Testing/Validation as separate line items. However, what was probably reported and scrutinized by the GAO was total contract cost divided by quantity of items, and that's where the cost/item comes from.


RE: Volume and production
By JediJeb on 10/29/2010 11:36:45 AM , Rating: 2
Very true. If the Navy had chosen regular Diesel fuel to power this thing and the contract award included $1Billion for a refinery to be built and 1000 gallons of fuel produced in the first run, then the cost of the Diesel fuel would appear to be $1billion/1000 gallons or $1Million/gallon of fuel. Even if the contract stipulated that the company would continue to produce the fuel for 20 years making a million gallons per year, that first initial run of fuel can be made to look very expensive, yet if 20,000,000 gallons are produced over the life of the contract then the final cost would be $50 per gallon compared to the initial $1million per gallon it appeared to cost.

Unless we know the full contract details we can not assume that the fuel itself cost $424 per gallon. As others have said it is probably just hype trying to discredit even trying to turn to biofuels over regular fuels.


RE: Volume and production
By xthetenth on 10/29/2010 12:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
And sometimes they make sense when you consider the overall effect. I think it was the P-3 which needed new fiberglass toilet housings or something like that, but they'd need to make a new production line for them and the overall price was something like $10k. Crazy, right? But because of them, they were able to keep flying the planes a lot longer. I think that kind of thing, where they're buying out of production specialist parts to keep something far more expensive working are where a lot of the crazy price tags come from.


RE: Volume and production
By knutjb on 10/29/2010 1:25:07 AM , Rating: 3
I think you miss the point. If Intel chose to make fewer chips to have a higher margin they would risk greater competition. Free market...AMD...

Politicians don't think about rational behavior when forcing stuff like this. Algae is a great idea but has a long way to go to be commercially viable. This is nothing more than a futile exercise.

This tech is nowhere ready for prime time and blowing millions to make a few constituents feel warm and fuzzy is a horrible waste of the people's money.

Would I like to see this stuff at the pump and cheaper than oil, absolutely. This is a sad joke and I'm sure the Chinese are laughing their @sses off.


RE: Volume and production
By drycrust3 on 10/29/2010 1:33:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
10000 chips

If the navy took the oil used to fry the chips and filtered it, they could run this boat on a diesel engine.


RE: Volume and production
By clovell on 10/29/2010 1:35:39 PM , Rating: 3
HOLD THE PHONE - Seriously. When we talk about subsidizing experimental wind farms, it's bloody inefficient murder in the streets.

But now that it's a defense contract, it's somehow okay? It's inefficient right now.

I don't care what the price is going to be - it won't be able to make up for this asinine waste of tax dollars. The only benefit touted from this is 'going green'. No mention of shorter refinery cycle, autonomous supply lines and/or refueling, or even how it increases speeds.

So riddle me this, why is everyone here at DT so quick to demonize green tech for peaceful purposes, when it's actually useful but not for military applications when it's clearly not?


RE: Volume and production
By Solandri on 10/30/2010 12:10:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
So riddle me this, why is everyone here at DT so quick to demonize green tech for peaceful purposes, when it's actually useful but not for military applications when it's clearly not?

You're dealing with a lot of viewpoints on DT. I know the folks with a libertarian streak will criticize both peaceful green tech and military green tech if they're both not cost-effective. Other folks (like me) are ok with some money spent on peaceful green R&D and military R&D which happens to be green. I only post rebuttals of the green stuff when some eco-nut talks as if the green stuff is economically viable right now and the only thing keeping it off the market is some government-corporate conspiracy.

Also, why do you say green tech is useful for peaceful purposes but not for military? Seems like if it's useful, it'd be useful for both. In fact, given the premium the military places on combat independence (e.g. being able to run your vehicles without having to have fuel provided by locals), it seems to me the military vehicle would be economically viable at a much higher fuel cost than a commercial vehicle, making the green tech more useful for the military than for the private sector. The opposite of what you're saying.


your cave is calling you
By undummy on 10/28/2010 4:53:08 PM , Rating: 3
At this rate of economic ignorance and degradation, we'll all be living in caves and eating what we can scrounge for.

$424 per gallon is a hell of a subsidy for a company. Who owns it? What politician has interest in it?

Bio-diesel can be made for $5 a gallon. Not sure what moron, in gov't purchasing, signed up for this $424/gallon fuel, but he/she/it should be fired. First ethanol over butanol, and now algae fuel over bio-diesel.

Whatever happened to thermal depolymerization? A little odor closed down something that actually had potential.

Don't forget to vote.




RE: your cave is calling you
By Ammohunt on 10/28/2010 6:00:54 PM , Rating: 2
Some of us already are....


RE: your cave is calling you
By wiz220 on 10/28/2010 6:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you get it. This is almost certainly a small scale pilot program where costs are always higher than a mass production situation. I think the first poster had it right, the navy is banking on the fact that prices will come down over time, but right now as a feasibility study you're going to have to pay more. It's not like they said that they are converting all vessels right now and will pay $424 per gallon in perpetuity.

I applaud the armed forces for trying to be prepared for the day when oil is no longer abundant and cheap.


RE: your cave is calling you
By undummy on 10/28/2010 7:19:30 PM , Rating: 1
I do get it.

I doubt that economics of scale, when considering gov't purchases, will really make a difference.

They didn't buy 50, 500, or 1000 gallons. They bought 20k gallons. That for a fluid is volume. And from Navy Times:

Getting biofuel production on pace with petroleum also will be a major challenge. Skeptics wonder whether there’s enough arable land in the U.S. to grow the grasses and other plants needed to produce industrial levels of biofuels — and, moreover, what effect a glut of energy agriculture would have on the price of food.

Time to buy up as many grain futures and land as possible. I foresee some shortages.


RE: your cave is calling you
By hallmarkt on 10/28/2010 10:59:22 PM , Rating: 2
Ugh. I know nothing in this area. But I am comfortable saying that 20,000 gallons is not high volume production for a new type of liquid fuel. Remember, gallons, not barrels. This is not high volume.

As other poster have stated, this line item probably included R&D and construction costs for an algal fuel plant. I repeat, the Navy's purchase of 20,000 gallons was not a large purchase.

If you still don't believe me, then for visualization, an Olympic-size swimming pool holds approximately 600,000 gallons of water.


RE: your cave is calling you
By JediJeb on 10/29/2010 2:43:26 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Getting biofuel production on pace with petroleum also will be a major challenge. Skeptics wonder whether there’s enough arable land in the U.S. to grow the grasses and other plants needed to produce industrial levels of biofuels — and, moreover, what effect a glut of energy agriculture would have on the price of food.


Right now the government is paying farmers to not grow crops and leave millions of acres of farm land idle just to prevent a glut of food crops from bottoming out the price of food and bankrupting farmers. So there is plenty of land to start growing biofuel crops on. Also for algae you don't need good crop growing land, you can grow it anywhere you can get water, which can be either fresh or salt water depending on the type of algae. The best places are right next to power plants so you can use the waste CO2 from the powerplant(coal oil or natural gas) to feed the algae.


RE: your cave is calling you
By Firebat5 on 11/1/2010 10:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
"Right now the government is paying farmers to not grow crops and leave millions of acres of farm land idle just to prevent a glut of food crops from bottoming out the price of food and bankrupting farmers."

As an active farmer, I can tell you in my experience that this is not true. Years ago the federal dollars given to farmers did do this. However, currently, the federal "safety net" has switched focus to emphasize crop insurance subsidization. Don't get me wrong I HATE the idea of federal monies flowing to farmers, but currently, by and large, the government does not pay farmers to not raise crops (assuming no fraud).

"So there is plenty of land to start growing biofuel crops on."

My observation, is that all "crop growing land" is already employed in the raising food-- either crops or protein (read beef). In recent years, many poorer crop acres have been converted from beef production to crop production. There are several factors involved involved in this including higher commodity prices(read biofuels), better farming practices, and depressed protein prices.

I can also tell you that, in our area at least, biofuels compete directly with food for acres (read higher food prices). Simply put, biofuels have raised demand for our products, and the market has responded by transfering acres from food (including proteins, in a roundabout way) to biofuels.

regards


RE: your cave is calling you
By RivuxGamma on 10/28/2010 8:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
The algae fuel is bio-diesel. Algae is one of the most dense sources of oil that can be used for biofuels. The problem is that you can't just plant it. You have to have growing vats, lighting, etc. to actually grow it and the technology just hasn't developed to a point where it's economical yet.

So it's sort of like they bought a bunch of experimental fuel.


RE: your cave is calling you
By drinkmorejava on 10/28/2010 10:14:59 PM , Rating: 2
I can guarantee you that they had to stand up a plant for the order...which would justify the cost.

The Air Force had to do that with it's SPK fuel tests, although they had to buy considerably more fuel, resulting in <25% of the cost per gallon. A large turbofan will happily burn 10k lbs of fuel per hour.

HRJ fuel has been significantly cheaper because there are already commercial manufacturers, but it's still a few X more than regular gas or JP-8.

There are a number of facilities that can give you a few gallons of whatever you want for analysis, but that wont get you far in testing.


RE: your cave is calling you
By MrBungle123 on 10/29/2010 12:38:42 PM , Rating: 2
If you read between the lines I think the explanation for this can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqHL404zhcU&feature...


RE: your cave is calling you
By Solandri on 10/30/2010 3:36:00 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
At this rate of economic ignorance and degradation, we'll all be living in caves and eating what we can scrounge for.

$424 per gallon is a hell of a subsidy for a company. Who owns it? What politician has interest in it?

Bio-diesel can be made for $5 a gallon. Not sure what moron, in gov't purchasing, signed up for this $424/gallon fuel, but he/she/it should be fired. First ethanol over butanol, and now algae fuel over bio-diesel.

Military spending is always a favorite place for the government to try out off-the wall ideas. Back during the cold war, the military was where the government investigated ESP just in case there really was something to it. It's where the government tests out stuff to see how much of what's being said in the private sector is hype, and how much of it has some basis in reality.

If you google for biodiesel (and algae-based diesel in particular), you'll run into all sorts of people claiming all sorts of things about how you can make it and how cost-effective it is or can be. This project is probably just the government's way to sort out the hype from the reality.

Also, don't be so quick to dismiss how well this can scale. A large portion of the stuff we take for granted today had its initial R&D costs absorbed via military projects. Nuclear power, nearly everything about aircraft, most manufacturing technologies, LCD panels (who do you think was buying them back when they cost >$10k for a 5" display?), radar, microwave ovens, computers, encryption, etc.

Back when the Internet started, it probably cost on the order of $1 per KB of data transmitted, when you could load a bunch of tapes into a station wagon and drive it to the destination for pennies per MB. If we had stopped ARPAnet cold back then because it was much cheaper to improve station wagon tape transport technology, where would we be today? True, not everything is guaranteed to be that successful. But we won't know until we try, right?


How much is it normally?
By MERKJONES on 10/28/2010 9:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
You can't say $424 a gallon for a Naval Vessel is jaw dropping without comparing it to what it normally costs... which is?




RE: How much is it normally?
By R3T4rd on 10/29/2010 5:44:15 AM , Rating: 2
99 Cents/gallon?


RE: How much is it normally?
By Kurz on 10/29/2010 7:58:42 AM , Rating: 2
Usually all Naval Vessels use Diesel fuel.
Though depending on use of the vessel (High Speed operations) it might be something else.


RE: How much is it normally?
By Chernobyl68 on 10/29/2010 12:23:55 PM , Rating: 2
yep, even aircraft carriers.


yay
By Chiisuchianu on 10/28/2010 4:24:25 PM , Rating: 1
Yay, we are going green guys! We'll go bankrupt and collapse civilization in the process but as long as mother earth is healed it's worth it!




RE: yay
By theArchMichael on 10/28/2010 4:45:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think the Navy's response in the article speaks more to it's concern that outside constraints on traditional non-renewable sources of energy (like fossil fuels) may put them in compromising strategical situations. Whereas this "green" algae fuel is not very accessible now, I think the Navy figures that this price will drop dramatically in the future. Not dissimilar to how the government was paying hundreds of dollars per megabyte for hard drive storage just a few decades ago and now the price is fractions of pennies per MB.

I think their reasoning is pretty good based on this objective because at the least, algae grows just about anywhere their is sunlight and water. These ships look to small to have a nuclear energy solution and I'm also not sure of the safety of having a nuclear solution on something that by it's very nature WILL be the target of various types of sabotage and explosives. Maybe somebody else can speak to that?


RE: yay
By GreenEuropean on 10/28/10, Rating: -1
RE: yay
By Chernobyl68 on 10/29/2010 12:39:09 PM , Rating: 3
sigh...wrong on so many counts. Dangerous, no, costly...depends.

Could you provide an example of what you consider "small damage" to a nuclear powered carrier, that would kill its entire crew (6000 or so when on deployment)?

The primary reason for a ship to be nuclear powered has nothing to do with power/mass ratio. Carriers in WW2 were powered by Oil as have modern American supercarriers (like the Kennedy, since retired). Mass considerations have very little to do with ship design. Endurance is by far the more important design consideation. A nuclear powered ship, submarine, or icebreaker, can go much longer at sea without being refueled, can run at high speeds for a much longer time, and had much more space to carry supplies for other purposes - food for subs, and jet fuel for carriers.
If carriers are refueling a lot, it is to maintain their tanks at maximum capacity. Its all about "readiness." Something could happen tomorrow, that may impact your supply ship's ability to get to you, or some unforseen event may call for extended combat operations without the opportunity to replenish, or you may be called away to a different area at high speed and you have to wait for your supply ship to catch up. Its like driving around and filling up every time you get halfway between 3/4 and Full.


RE: yay
By KGBird on 10/28/2010 7:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
Going green is nice, but the real reason is the military knows we buy oil from people who don't like us much. They really wanted get fuel from coal using Fischer-Tropsch, but the greenies really hated that approach.


$424 a gallon?!?
By KIAman on 10/28/2010 5:32:34 PM , Rating: 4
I bet they could get better mileage by burning 424 $1 bills.




RE: $424 a gallon?!?
By ThisSpaceForRent on 10/28/2010 6:18:52 PM , Rating: 1
It looks like the BTU content of cotton/paper (I think a dollar is what a 50/50 mix) is roughly quarter that of biodiesel (I'm fudging this number here so bear with me).

The catch is the diesel engine wouldn't be efficient as say a steam turbine would be. I haven't looked into too much, but it would seem that burning money to produce steam would be about on par with burning the bio-diesel when you take into account the efficiency of the engines in question.

Keep in mind this is looking at the amount of usable work you could produce from the from the engine and not the amount of heat generated. Discuss.


Ships for sale
By RugMuch on 10/28/2010 4:18:08 PM , Rating: 1
Looks like they just be putting up half their ships for sale, that or stop fighting other peoples wars.




RE: Ships for sale
By zippyzoo on 10/28/2010 4:19:35 PM , Rating: 3
Nice Ingrish.


9000?!?
By letmepicyou on 10/29/2010 1:11:56 AM , Rating: 2
Vegeta: "It's over NINE THOUSAND!!!"
*crushes scouter*
Nappa: "What, 9000? There's no WAY that can be right!"




Fuel Consumption
By Raiders12 on 10/29/2010 8:41:33 AM , Rating: 2
I work with a branch of the Navy, and operate/oversee the T-AKE class cargo ships, those are fairly big ships (689 ft) and use about 15k/day of DFM (Diesel Fuel Marine) at about $2.76/gal.




Bad reporting
By BearAteMe on 10/29/2010 3:40:03 PM , Rating: 2
I find it bad reporting that the DT article on this makes no mention of the fact that this is the price they paid a year ago. The Navy is already paying under 100$/Gal. for the same fuel.
Is it high? Sure but they basically are subsidizing the ramping up of this particular fuel.
Also should be noted that you can't compare this to a basic biofuel diesel that is mixed with water the Navy can't use due to a short service period.




navy
By kedesh on 10/29/2010 6:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
i was stationed on an amphibious assault carrier (LDH) and when we filled up, 750,000 gallons of Diesel fuel would cost roughly 1.4 million dollars, and we filled up every 5-7 days. i don't know about JP-5 because i wasn't in aviation department. but thats still a lot.




Algae Bull
By toyotabedzrock on 10/30/2010 10:30:12 AM , Rating: 2
Algae Bio Fuel is a trick developed by Big Coal to make themselves look green and then make sure we never switch from fossil fuels.




what are they thinking
By tharik on 10/30/2010 12:03:19 PM , Rating: 2
what are they thinking
By tharik on 10/30/2010 12:04:29 PM , Rating: 2
Time to Invade
By Hogger1 on 11/3/2010 1:56:41 PM , Rating: 2
$424 a gallon! All of a sudden, all that swampland looks pretty good. Speaking of which...I've heard that Jar Jar Binks is hiding weapons of mass destruction...time to invade Naboo!




Really?
By YashBudini on 11/1/2010 11:56:04 PM , Rating: 1
Amazing they weren't "swayed" by the corn lobby, who now is quite envious.




Your greenbacks at work...
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/28/10, Rating: -1
RE: Your greenbacks at work...
By Anoxanmore on 10/28/2010 4:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
It is almost a pretty color.

Yay! : D


RE: Your greenbacks at work...
By Spivonious on 10/28/10, Rating: 0
RE: Your greenbacks at work...
By John Silver on 10/28/2010 5:58:19 PM , Rating: 3
It's Swedish Army camouflage,
because it's an old Swedish boat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat_Boat_90


"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson














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