USAF Spends $59 per Gallon on Aviation Biofuel
July 16, 2012 8:32 AM
A-10 using biofuel
Air Force paid out $639,000 for biofuel
The U.S. military is making a big push to transition multiple branches of the armed services to biofuels for use in various vehicle types. The United States Navy has been testing the use of biofuel in its ships, the Army tests biofuels for its ground vehicles, and the United States Air Force tests biofuels for its aircraft. The goal is to wean the U.S. military off petroleum as much as possible.
The catch is that these biofuels are tremendously more expensive than traditional petroleum based fuels. The Navy reportedly paid $26 a gallon for biofuel for its Great Green Fleet demonstration, angering many Republicans in Washington. However, no one put up much of a fuss when the United States Air Force paid $59 per gallon for alcohol-to-jet fuel. The Air Force purchased 11,000 gallons of alcohol-to-jet fuel from a company called Gevo Inc. at a cost of $639,000.
One possible reason why Republicans in Washington didn't bat an eye at the $59 per gallon price that the Air Force paid was that the total expenditure was $639,000 compared to the Navy's total expenditure of $12 million on biofuel for a single day.
The point of these biofuel demonstrations is to prove that the military can operate its vehicles on biofuels reliably. Once the biofuels reach price parity with traditional petroleum fuels.
Gevo vice president for fuels Jeff Scheib says that the reason the jet fuel purchased by the Air Force is so expensive was because it came from a small demonstration plant in Silsbee, Texas that only produces 7,500 to 8,000 gallons of fuel monthly. According to Scheib, once the company has a commercial scale refinery, which is expected to be completed around 2015, pricing will come down.
Scheib said, "We believe we can be cost competitive on an all-in basis with petroleum jet fuel over the life of a contract."
As expensive as these biofuels were, the Navy has spent even more than $26 per gallon on biofuels the past. The Navy previously paid
$424 per gallon
for an algae-based biofuel. That biofuel was a 50-50 mix of standard F-76 fuel and the algae-derived biofuel.
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