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The Navy's new Riverine Command Boat (RCB-X)  (Source:
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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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.

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