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The US Air Force has shown a serious effort to go green, but much work remains

A new Pew Charitable Trusts report reveals the United States Air Force has reduced energy consumption over the past six years by 20 percent, as the military looks to continue going green.

"The military's reliance on fossil fuels compromises combat effectiveness by restricting mobility, flexibility and endurance on the battlefield," according to the new report, as government officials work with private contractors.

Going green is a popular initiative in the U.S. government at the moment, especially among Air Force officials who are interested in developing alternative fuel sources.  Since the Air Force uses more energy and natural resources than the other branches, there has been an even higher urgency for fuel efficiency and eco-conscious projects.

In addition to heavily researching biofuels and green spy planes, the Air Force also is developing solar farms, wind turbines, and power plants at airbases in select locations.  There also are 37 airbases that have renewable energy sources partially powering bases, with the overall number of bases expected to increase.

The Air Force recently performed a successful test flight of an A-10 fighter jet with a mix of 50/50 jet fuel and camelina weed mix.

Military officials and lawmakers plan to work with other contractors to help spur new green projects for use by the military.  The U.S. Army has given EnerDel a contract to make a hybrid Humvee battery, as Army officials also look at various ways to make greener vehicles.

Even though the military is testing biofuels, numerous trials must be conducted before the new fuels will be used during live missions.

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other notes...
By inperfectdarkness on 4/29/2010 9:48:16 AM , Rating: 2
according to the pilot of the aforementioned A-10, he could not discern any performance degredation or differences between the 50/50 blend and that of regular JP-8.

since the USAF is likely the largest single consumer of oil products in the world, converting the entire USAF fleet to a 50/50 blend would have a marked impact on our requirements for foreign oil. (converting our legions of semi's to 50/50 blends would probably be another great leap forward).

i cannot stress enough that energy independence is vital to our national security.

RE: other notes...
By ajfink on 4/29/2010 11:10:22 AM , Rating: 2
He couldn't tell the difference because the USAF stipulates that any replacement fuel must have the same energy density as the fuels it already uses, as not to throw off fuel gauges / performance. The fuel was designed to behave exactly the same, so even if he could tell the difference, it would likely have been only in his head.

RE: other notes...
By marvdmartian on 4/29/2010 11:13:27 AM , Rating: 2
The navy did a similar test just recently, with an F-18, and the pilot pretty much had the same remarks. Hopefully not just some canned response!

I find it incredible that the air force uses more fossil fuels than the navy, though. Granted, they have bigger aircraft, as well as more of them. But seeing as the navy only uses nuclear power on aircraft carriers and subs, you would think the remainder of the fleet would chew up quite a bit of fuel, wouldn't you? Plus, the bird farms use up quite a bit of JP5 for the aircraft.

Hopefully this bio-jet fuel mix will work out better for the military than the bio-diesel currently in use. Without major efforts (chemical additives and/or heated tanks), that stuff is useless to have in the winter time, even down in northern Texas. The colder weather causes the "bio" part to separate and coagulate, and clogs up filters within minutes!

RE: other notes...
By inperfectdarkness on 4/29/2010 1:49:45 PM , Rating: 2
i can't find the source right now, but it was the USAF (and by extension, the DOD) that was the largest oil consumer. some of the legacy 707's in our fleet consume >12,000 lbs/hr. and those aren't even the largest that we have. considering the frequency with which we fly c-17's, c-5's, kc-135's, etc...i would be at all surprised if we eclipse the navy in total consumption.

RE: other notes...
By FishTankX on 4/29/2010 6:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
While we may have alot of ships in the navy, it goes without saying that naval propulsion is significantly efficent per ton moved, per mile, than air propulsion.

My back of the napkin calculations are...

DDG-51 destroyer: 8500T fully loaded
F-16 6T fully loaded
(sources Wiki)
DDG fuel requirements:
35,000 gallons per day (30 MPH)
F-16: Unknown gallons per day, but this website says 380KG/min at mach .8 at 15,000 feet. Assuming 1 gallon of JP8 is worth 8KG, we'll say 47 gallons per minute at mach 0.8

So judging from those figures,

DDG-51@30MPH: 174 miles per gallon per ton
F-16 @ mach 0.8: 1.2 miles per gallon per ton

Conclusion: Navy destroyer: 14500% more range per gallon per ton.

RE: other notes...
By JonnyDough on 4/30/2010 3:41:48 AM , Rating: 2
Quite right, because water is not as easily displaced as air is. Now one might think that pushing water out of the way of a ship would use more energy than pushing air out of the way of an aircraft - and it does, however the propellers and jet engines themselves must move a significantly larger amount of air or water to propel the craft forward. Hence, why a ship is more efficient than an airplane. Water density being so much heavier than air means the ship has something to push off against. Especially when you consider how the thin the air is in the upper atmosphere - and hence the need for scram and ramjets.

RE: other notes...
By Smilin on 4/29/2010 3:38:34 PM , Rating: 2
i cannot stress enough that energy independence is vital to our national security.

Despite any disagreement I had with you elsewhere you are absolutely correct here.

This is all nice for the environment but the real deal is national security. If we think the USAF burns a lot of oil right now just wait until wartime. Our strategic oil reserves would only last a matter of weeks if they were required to fuel our economy and military at the same time.

RE: other notes...
By Lord 666 on 4/29/2010 8:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
Need to think bigger, the US airlines combined with the USAF burn more fuel than anyone.

Could see this being mandated federally. Plus, Virgin Atlantic already did commercial tests back in 2008 -

welcome to last week's news
By inperfectdarkness on 4/29/2010 9:43:37 AM , Rating: 1
...this was in the USAF times last week. i expected better from daily-tech.

RE: welcome to last week's news
By Smilin on 4/29/2010 9:47:42 AM , Rating: 2
They flew a C-17 on this stuff 3 years ago and you're just finding out about it last week?

I expect better from a USAF Times reader.

RE: welcome to last week's news
By inperfectdarkness on 4/29/2010 9:51:38 AM , Rating: 2
considering that i was in basic 3 years ago, i can honestly say i never read that article. even if you google "c-17" and "biofuel" you'll only come up with 2010 articles; so i can't begrudge awareness of the earlier tests.

By inperfectdarkness on 4/29/2010 9:54:17 AM , Rating: 2

the Dec 2007 test was done with a 50/50 mix of synthetic fuel--not necessarily a biofuel, and certainly not the same fuel used in the current tests.

RE: welcome to last week's news
By MrBlastman on 4/29/2010 10:09:06 AM , Rating: 2
This is just what we need! Now we can bomb the hippies while conserving the environment too!

They can't protest against the military once and for all. Think it through:

1. We're reducing the military's carbon footprint.
2. If we produce cellulosic casings for our bombs, we're reducing lead and metal contamination.
3. We're practicing population control! This is at the top of the progressive moment's agenda.
4. Peace will ultimately prevail... among mounds and mounds of dead people but flowers will sprout from them... eventually.

Hippies, rejoice!

(Okay, I really don't want to sacrifice performance of our strike aircraft to save the environment--but I can't stand the hippies either, so this lets us attack them with their own medicine.)

RE: welcome to last week's news
By Smilin on 4/29/2010 2:26:12 PM , Rating: 2

Your criticism was dumb and unwarranted. Don't backpedal now.

Here's a 2009 article from dailytech itself..

And here is the C-17..

RE: welcome to last week's news
By emoser96 on 4/29/2010 2:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
FWIW, the A-10 flew a fischer tropsch fuel this past fall and it flew the HRJ fuel (the camelina fuel mix mentioned) the last week of March. Both of those fuels were 50/50 blends since the biofuels don't meet the requirements for JP-8 in their 100% concentrations.

Too bad...
By sleepeeg3 on 4/29/2010 4:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
Too bad biofuels burn more oil than the energy the produce! Even my hippie friend agrees they are a joke, along with hydrogen fuel cells. These will never be practical technologies. All the land wasted in growing this at an energy deficit could go toward solar/wind. Too bad the efficiency of solar/wind is a joke.

DailyTech get back to what you are good at - being a tech site. Spewing this propaganda has nothing to do with electronics and has virtually no impact on where our energy comes from. Consumers will embrace alternative energies when scientists solve the efficiency problem. When we are $12 trillion dollar in debt, competing against the world and it costs 3x as much to purchase wind/solar, these technologies are impossible until this problem is solved.

RE: Too bad...
By inperfectdarkness on 4/30/2010 8:38:32 AM , Rating: 2
...and how exactly will wind/solar power transfer to jet aircraft?

please...i'm waiting with bated breath here!???

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