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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.

Source: Reuters



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I don't think they are doing this to save money
By Dribble on 7/16/2012 9:16:23 AM , Rating: 5
If there is a war and supplies to oil are cut then I suspect the aim is to be able use bio fuel so they can keep fighting.




RE: I don't think they are doing this to save money
By Uncle on 7/16/2012 12:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't that the reason for underground storage, all over the USA.


RE: I don't think they are doing this to save money
By Samus on 7/16/2012 10:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
Aviation-grade jet fuel costs about $12/gallon at any major airport.


By djcameron on 7/17/2012 1:11:49 AM , Rating: 2
Jet-A is about $4.75/gal


By DennisB on 7/18/2012 4:07:34 PM , Rating: 2
The production cost can't be less than just mining.
And that's the 2nd good news. The bad news is producing bio fuel uses up more than is good for the ecology. nuff said.

The reserves are meant to keep the economy running, warring is secondary.


RE: I don't think they are doing this to save money
By arazok on 7/16/2012 1:00:32 PM , Rating: 4
That’s what the strategic reserve is for. If your oil supply is cut off and your unable to reestablish it before that reserve is exhausted, you probably lost the war already anyways.

Regardless, I think it’s wise to at least develop this capacity as a Plan D so long as it’s left at capacity levels and not routinely used.


By Natch on 7/16/2012 3:36:22 PM , Rating: 3
The problem with ANY fuel is that it has a finite "shelf life", so has to be used, and replenished, from time to time. Same goes for bio fuels, so there's no "buy a bunch now, then not again" scenario available.

And it's not just jet fuel that the DoD is buying as bio-fuel. It's automotive fuel as well. All stateside DoD installations should now have E85 and Bio-Diesel B-20 available for their own fleet of vehicles, as well as any leased vehicles (that can use those fuels).

So while we're "saving oil reserves" by using these bio-fuels, we're also dealing with more difficulty in running vehicles (since B-20, depending on the mixture, can have real problems with jelling in cold weather), AND lower fuel economy (in the case of E85, which is proven to give lower MPG than gasoline).

Oh, and we're likely spending more money on those fuels than the "dino" fuels they're replacing. And if that ticks you off like it does me, make certain to contact your Congressman and Senator about it, so we can get these ridiculous rules reversed!


RE: I don't think they are doing this to save money
By Zuul on 7/16/2012 2:51:07 PM , Rating: 3
The largest supplier of oil to the US is actually Canada (which has the 3rd largest proven reserves in the world after Saudia Arabia and Venezuela). Probably one of the friendliest countries to the US.

Well, it is at least for now anyway - the US has a preference for supporting oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and has delaying projects to secure oil to the US (Keystone XL Phase 3). This has annoyed the Canadians so now Canada has multiple major projects on the radar to ship oil to China and Asia (Northern Gateway and twinning the Transmountain Pipeline).


RE: I don't think they are doing this to save money
By arazok on 7/16/2012 3:56:18 PM , Rating: 2
Not going to happen.

Keystone was a political delay to shut up the environmental lobby and will be approved after the election.

Canada is working on a Plan B – China, but mostly for the same political reasons. 1) It helps provide ammo to the US government (“If we don’t approve this, THEY will get the oil we need!”), and 2) It helps our government look busy which helps keep positive headlines in the papers.


By Ringold on 7/16/2012 11:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
There's a small chance Keystone could get wrapped up in to something greater if Obama's re-elected, forcing further delay.. or cancellation. Always have to be careful dealing with environmentalists; people have been saying and trying for years to get oil drilling off the coast of Florida, never happens. California has shale oil and gas, think they'll ever exploit it? No. Wind turbines off high-income islands on the Eastern seaboard? No. Even solar panels in the desert can be hard to get approved.

Canada is better off never underestimating America's ability to shoot itself in the foot.


By Zuul on 7/17/2012 10:03:59 AM , Rating: 2
It's definitely a political play by the US to delay Keystone XL again, however I think delaying Keystone XL for yet another review has given Canada a reality check that the US isn't the same old reliable trading partner the US used to be.

Keep in mind that oil is already moving from Canada to Asia - the transmountain pipeline system (which has been there for over 50 years), already moves 300,000 bbl per day from the oilsands to the coast to be loaded on tankers.

Twinning the Transmountain and building the Northern Gateway pipelines projects in Canada have been on the books for a while to support growing demand from China (notwithstanding chinese oil companies buying major shares of Canadian oil companies). This has given the market a reason to increase capacity to the coast and thus ship to China.

On the Canadian side, the pipelines haven't become a political spectacle just yet. While I think Northern Gateway itself will have some significant hurdles to get through, twinning the transmountain pipeline will be comparatively smooth as the right of way is already there.


So how much is ...
By DFranch on 7/16/2012 9:46:05 AM , Rating: 2
regular Jet Fuel? The article only mentions $3.60 for the gas we put in our cars. It seems like Jet fuel must cost more than that.




RE: So how much is ...
By teh cilantro on 7/16/2012 10:32:40 AM , Rating: 2
Jet A fuel has an average price of $5.16 in the Austin, TX area.


RE: So how much is ...
By danjw1 on 7/16/2012 11:20:56 AM , Rating: 5
Jet A, is used in most civil and general aviation turbine powered aircraft. The military uses a bit different formulation, I know in the Navy we used JP5. I believe the Air Force uses a different formulation then the Navy. So it is probably a bit more expensive, but probably not much. At KSJC Jet A is $6.84. So prices vary. Of course volume contracts saves money.


RE: So how much is ...
By teh cilantro on 7/16/2012 2:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
Air Force uses JP8, which is similar to Jet-A.


RE: So how much is ...
By geddarkstorm on 7/16/2012 2:19:39 PM , Rating: 2
Still an order of magnitude away from the biofuel costs.


Silly Air Force
By leviathan05 on 7/16/2012 10:09:48 AM , Rating: 5
Why are we even going through a middleman for fuel? At this point it seems as though it would be more efficient to research burning currency as a way to power our aircraft.




RE: Silly Air Force
By Argon18 on 7/16/2012 3:46:49 PM , Rating: 2
For many things, gov't is required by law to purchase through a reseller, instead of direct from the manufacturer.


RE: Silly Air Force
By leviathan05 on 7/18/2012 10:38:05 AM , Rating: 2
My comment clearly flew over your head (pun intended).


You are a bunch of f**king imbeciles.
By Amiga500 on 7/16/2012 2:24:59 PM , Rating: 5
It is a demonstrator program!

As a comparison; how much did a YF-22 cost per airframe relative to the F-22?

Demonstrator programs are always far more expensive per unit than industrial scale.

Talk about comparing apples with Alaskan crab!




RE: You are a bunch of f**king imbeciles.
By Ringold on 7/16/12, Rating: -1
By BSMonitor on 7/17/2012 9:03:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, it's not your life on the line should said fuel not work... So, let's make every decision based on your common sense..

Life would be so easy.


what?
By MadMan007 on 7/16/2012 8:55:40 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Howve, no sawhorse much of a fuss when the United States Air Force paid $59 per gallon for alcohol-to-jet fuel.


??




RE: what?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 7/16/2012 9:01:26 AM , Rating: 2
WTF indeed. Fixed


Was this a test?
By GatoRat on 7/16/2012 2:25:06 PM , Rating: 2
Testing biofuel would be a legitimate expense. Producing biofuel using algae is a promising technology, though it would be an error to plan on it.




Politicians!
By leadpoop on 7/16/12, Rating: -1
RE: Politicians!
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 7/16/12, Rating: 0
RE: Politicians!
By albus on 7/16/2012 9:11:58 AM , Rating: 1
They can keep flying with fossil fuels. Isn't it their job to keep the fossil fuel supplies running? Let them change when the fuel costs rise.


RE: Politicians!
By MadMan007 on 7/16/2012 10:18:43 AM , Rating: 2
It's a beautiful circle isn't it: We need jets to protect stability in the Middle East for oil, the jets run on oil, so we need to protect the Middle East....


RE: Politicians!
By albus on 7/16/2012 10:24:25 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
It's a beautiful circle isn't it: We need jets to protect stability in the Middle East for oil, the SUVs run on oil, so we need to protect the Middle East....


FTFY


RE: Politicians!
By leadpoop on 7/16/12, Rating: -1
RE: Politicians!
By Apone on 7/16/2012 12:14:58 PM , Rating: 2
@ leadpoop

- I follow your reasoning but for multi-billion dollar projects like the F-22, F-35, etc. how can you accurately predict its exact budget costs without being able to see in the future? There are so many variables between Uncle Sam, Lockheed Martin, suppliers, etc. that setbacks can and do happen. I'm not saying it's okay to be overbudget but you're making it sound like it's completely avoidable for large scale projects.

quote:
Fuel that runs our country, runs the military


- Well our military is continuing to push technology and automation thus reducing its thirst for fuel. Case in point, we have UAV drones that not only have long-range surveillance capabilities, but can also be armed with attack missiles, while also having the ability to air-drop ammo, food, equipment, and medical supplies to our troops on the ground.

- You're also contradicting yourself; You're saying bio-fuel testing is expensive and worth the heavy costs but what if the mass deployment of bio-fuel into current military aircraft and vehicles becomes overbudget just like the F-22 and F-35?


RE: Politicians!
By leadpoop on 7/16/2012 12:38:17 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not saying don't invest in new planes and technology, but it's a buddy game right now. Just look how much they spend for these programs, it's a waste of money. We just keep giving these companies a blank check and asking that they build the death star but they just can't get it right! Yes, setbacks do happen but I'm saying you write the contract so Joe public isn't getting screwed all the time and let some of these companies take more risk. Back in the day the companies had to compete with one another, now, not so much. The companies now have the upper hand.

quote:
Well our military is continuing to push technology and automation thus reducing its thirst for fuel. Case in point, we have UAV drones that not only have long-range surveillance capabilities, but can also be armed with attack missiles, while also having the ability to air-drop ammo, food, equipment, and medical supplies to our troops on the ground.


How does that reduce our fuel? You are just assuming it does. I could argue that because they are smaller and cheaper, then we could just build three times as many UAVS than conventional machinery, and they would use the equivalent amount of fuel as compared to conventional machines.

quote:
You're also contradicting yourself; You're saying bio-fuel testing is expensive and worth the heavy costs but what if the mass deployment of bio-fuel into current military aircraft and vehicles becomes overbudget just like the F-22 and F-35?


No. I'm not contradicting myself. They are spending, what 10-20 million for the Biofuel program? Not 100's of billions of dollars. Some programs you get more value for your dollar, the biofuel program being one of those programs. Without fuel the 100 billion dollar planes won't be doing much except collecting dust!

Facts are, the government should be spending our money more wisely instead of trying to build death stars.


RE: Politicians!
By Jedi2155 on 7/16/2012 1:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
I'd argue we just need more Star Destroyers than Death Stars. A super star destroyer would be fine too but truly a Death Star is overkill and just one nasty weakness that's easier to exploit than a womp rat.


RE: Politicians!
By chµck on 7/16/2012 7:54:05 PM , Rating: 2
and your name fits
+1


RE: Politicians!
By Apone on 7/16/2012 1:46:03 PM , Rating: 2
- You're not listening to me; My point is that emerging technologies we utilize like UAV drones LEVERAGE our resources; In other words, an armed UAV can be sent into a skirmish and most likely get the job done without having to incur significant costs like fuel, man power, and the chance of soldier casualties. Just because UAV's are cheaper, doesn't mean we have to build 3x as many. It's not quantity, it's quality.

- And exactly how would you know bio-fuel wouldn't be expensive to mass deploy to our military vehicles? Sure research is a measily $10-20 million dollars and if it proves fruitful, the cost, labor, and time associated with mass integrating it into our military vehicles could become way overbudget! Even with budget forecasting, etc., you just don't know until you pull the trigger!

quote:
We just keep giving these companies a blank check and asking that they build the death star but they just can't get it right!


- You clearly have no idea how the business of government and military defense contracting works....


RE: Politicians!
By leadpoop on 7/16/2012 2:33:53 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You're not listening to me; My point is that emerging technologies we utilize like UAV drones LEVERAGE our resources; In other words, an armed UAV can be sent into a skirmish and most likely get the job done without having to incur significant costs like fuel, man power, and the chance of soldier casualties. Just because UAV's are cheaper, doesn't mean we have to build 3x as many


This whole argument is, what's a waste of money and what is not. You are to hung up on UAV for some reason. I'm just saying use the money more wisely.

quote:
And exactly how would you know bio-fuel wouldn't be expensive to mass deploy to our military vehicles? Sure research is a measily $10-20 million dollars and if it proves fruitful, the cost, labor, and time associated with mass integrating it into our military vehicles could become way overbudget! Even with budget forecasting, etc., you just don't know until you pull the trigger!


I don't know how high it will run. I do know the bio-fuel will run everything from humvees to generators, to ships, to just about anything that's diesel will run it!
You seem to think 10-20 million is the same as 100+ billion. I am saying the biofuel project is better money spent than the newest fighter jets, jets that have yet to see combat!

quote:
You clearly have no idea how the business of government and military defense contracting works....


Make no mistake, I had 12 years of service with the military, three years with a Test and Eval Unit! So I do know a little bit of how the government and military works!! If we don't spend our money wisely then there is no reason fighting any war because you won't be able to fight without money. Cost money for fuel, man-power, planes, equipment, food, boats, UAV's, and anything else you can think of.


RE: Politicians!
By Apone on 7/16/2012 4:03:53 PM , Rating: 2
- It's weird you keep saying "waste of money", "use the money more wisely" but have yet to give any solid examples of this. I, on the other hand, am giving you UAV's as an example of military contract money well-spent because it's been proven to save lives, incur less operating overhead, and can leverage our resources. THAT is how I measure and quantify "using money wisely" which is why I'm sure Uncle Sam continues to adopt UAV's at an increasing rate.

quote:
You seem to think 10-20 million is the same as 100+ billion.


- I never said that in any of my posts; I agree with you that this research may cost $10-$20 million; BUT you say it's worth it. I'M saying it could get expensive if or when it's MASS DEPLOYED to all our aircraft and vehicles thus questioning its worth if it becomes over budget.

- Great, I thank you for your military service to our great nation but Uncle Sam doesn't issue "blank checks" for military contracts like your 2nd post suggested. Also simply having military experience in a Test/Eval unit doesn't automatically mean you have PROJECT MANAGEMENT experience which is really the meat and potatoes of military contracts. Just talk to any project manager at Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, N-Grumman, HK, LWRC,and any high-ranking military official who oversees a military defense contract and you'll know exactly why programs like the F-35 are over budget.


RE: Politicians!
By leadpoop on 7/16/2012 4:40:41 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
THAT is how I measure and quantify "using money wisely" which is why I'm sure Uncle Sam continues to adopt UAV's at an increasing rate.


Great, I am glad you understand how to "measure and quantify" which is why your sure Uncle Sam continues to adopt UAV's at an increasing rate. Yes UAV's are nice, if it crashes, great no one was killed. Your just out the cost no biggie, the government has deep pockets. I agree that UAV's are a good purchase, but they can only do so much. You still need people. You can't win a war with just UAV's. That's how I "measure and quantify", I use reality and logic. Like I said, you need to get the best bang for your buck. Overpriced fighter jets is not the best bang for our buck. Yet this happens all the time. And it's usually congresses fault, they refuse to kill off certain programs because it can effect certain jobs, or makes them look good, or just the good ole'boy club.

quote:
Uncle Sam doesn't issue "blank checks" for military contracts like your 2nd post suggested.


Um, when the programs constantly come in over budget Uncle Sam seems to always play along and keeps giving these companies money. So yes, essentially Uncle Sam writes these companies a blank check.

quote:
Also simply having military experience in a Test/Eval unit doesn't automatically mean you have PROJECT MANAGEMENT experience which is really the meat and potatoes of military contracts. Just talk to any project manager at Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, N-Grumman, HK, LWRC,and any high-ranking military official who oversees a military defense contract and you'll know exactly why programs like the F-35 are over budget.


Anybody with any sense, can read and write a contract with whatever parameters they want. Any program can go over budget, but it takes a disciplined manager to put any end to it. The devils in the details, so it really depends on how the contract is written.

They go over budget because our congress has no fiscal values and always try to help out companies to keep them in their state, or to give them tax breaks.


RE: Politicians!
By knutjb on 7/18/2012 2:24:57 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's how I "measure and quantify", I use reality and logic. Like I said, you need to get the best bang for your buck. Overpriced fighter jets is not the best bang for our buck. Yet this happens all the time. And it's usually congresses fault, they refuse to kill off certain programs because it can effect certain jobs, or makes them look good, or just the good ole'boy club.
quote:
Um, when the programs constantly come in over budget Uncle Sam seems to always play along and keeps giving these companies money. So yes, essentially Uncle Sam writes these companies a blank check.
Yep the contractors are fleecing the tax payer. You have what experience in military aircraft development? From what I read zero. When working with bleeding edge technologies there will be a number of problems. Also the customer is just as much to blame. Many times changes are made throughout the process to add something new at the customers request. As for your blank check analogy it doesn't float. Look at the Tanker program, just as it looked like a blank check was in the mail...it was called for being a bad investment.

Fighters are not my favorite jet but they have a purpose. UAVs have been way over used. Killing Johny Jihad is all fine and dandy but what human intel was acquired when his body was splattered by a hellfire? In the end they are simply tools to a job. You might be able to turn a lot of bolts with a 10in Crescent but if that's your only tool you're SOL.

Finally, who won the Silver in WWII? Sorry, there is only the gold, the rest are losers.



RE: Politicians!
By Fallen Kell on 7/16/2012 6:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am saying the biofuel project is better money spent than the newest fighter jets, jets that have yet to see combat!


And by that thinking and logic we would never have new jets, or new ships, humvees, tanks, personnel carriers, etc., etc., etc., because they have yet to see combat, and won't ever see combat until they have seen combat....


RE: Politicians!
By AntiM on 7/16/2012 10:22:30 AM , Rating: 3
It would be interesting to follow the money trail on this one. Whose pocket is this money going to?


RE: Politicians!
By danjw1 on 7/16/2012 11:32:38 AM , Rating: 1
I agree, to a point. We need to mitigate our risk by exploring biofuels. I agree that Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrup wouldn't know how to get a project delivered on time or one budget if their lives depended on it. :-)

We need to pursue updated technologies. I just think we need to look at other companies to develop it. Also, the whole concept of cost plus contracts is broken. They have absolutely no motivation to get anything done on time or on budget. The US military needs to take a hard look at how it acquires new weapon systems. We can't keep up with these programs continuing to pay what we are now to develop new weapon systems.


RE: Politicians!
By Uncle on 7/16/2012 12:47:53 PM , Rating: 2
The question and answer I haven't seen is, what company is getting the $59 gal for making the fuel. Would I be far off if Monsanto is involved some how.


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