Air Force Aims High on Alternative Fuels

John Davis

The men and women who wear U.S. Air Force blue are looking to help preserve your freedoms, while gaining their own freedom from non-renewable petroleum.

This article from National Defense Magazine says the service wants the biofuels industry to step up its game to provide the millions of gallons the Air Force will need when it converts to 50-50 blends of jet and synthetic fuels in 2016:

“I’m throwing the gauntlet down to industry,” said Timothy Bridges, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy, environment, safety and occupational health. “We’re doing our part. We’re asking them to do theirs and support the country as we move toward alternative energies,” he told National Defense in an interview at the Pentagon.

The Air Force is working to wean itself off foreign oil. It consumes some 2.5 billion gallons of jet fuel annually. By 2030, its intention is to fly on domestically produced alternative fuels concocted from renewable sources including biomass, which encompasses everything from wood chips and plant oils to animal fats and agricultural waste. Those fuels must be cost competitive with petroleum and have greenhouse gas emissions equal to or less than that of oil, officials said.

“It has to be a business consideration because we want competitively priced fuels for it to make sense to do it,” said Bridges. “Yes, we can get the quantities that we need for the testing, but when it comes to our requirement to actually fly the fleet, that’s a larger challenge. We’re setting the expectations. We want it to be there when we’re ready,” added Bridges, who until recently oversaw energy as part of his responsibilities. A new office dedicated solely to energy was established by the service in November. It is being led by Kevin Geiss, deputy assistant secretary for energy.

If it meets its 50 percent goal of alternative fuels from locally sourced feedstocks in five years, that would add up to 400 million gallons. The Air Force’s point is the infrastructure needs to be up-to-date to handle that demand.

“We want to say, ‘Look guys, we’re going to be ready. Will you be ready?’” said Bridges.

biofuels, Government