Navy to Test Biofuels Made from Waste

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The U.S. Navy's "Great Green Fleet" demonstrates biofuels during the Rim of the Pacific 2012 exercise. Photo: Flickr/Official U.S Navy Page

The U.S. Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” demonstrates biofuels during the Rim of the Pacific 2012 exercise. Photo: Flickr/Official U.S Navy Page

The Department of Energy is moving forward with a new $18 million package that will fund four new pilot projects for the Navy’s biofuel program.

The projects are designed to test renewable biofuels that are made using materials as diverse as switchgrass, algae, municipal waste and other forms of refuse.

“Advanced biofuels are an important part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, improve our energy security and protect our air and water,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a press release. “The innovative biorefinery projects announced today mark an important step toward producing fuels for our American military and the civil aviation industry from renewable resources found right here in the United States.”

The four new projects focus on biofuel feedstocks that don’t involve food for humans or livestock and don’t take up land that could be used for food production.

One of the new projects will be managed by Frontline Bioenergy of Ames, Iowa, whose proprietary TarFreeGas bioreactor will convert woody biomass and municipal solid waste into liquid biofuel product that can be upgraded to meet military specifications.

Mercurius Biorefining in Washington state will be managing another of the projects, which will focus on turning woody biomass into biofuel.

Cobalt Technologies in California will use a fermentation-based process that uses bacteria to break down switchgrass and convert it to butanol, which can be turned into jet fuel.

The fourth project will be managed by an Iowa-based company called BioProcess Algae, which plans on building an algae biorefinery that can produce military-grade biofuel and byproducts.

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