The U.S. Navy has placed the world’s largest biofuel order of 450,000 gallons with Dynamic Fuels LLC – a joint venture between Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corp. – and Solazyme Inc., the Defense Logistics Agency announced on Monday.
The contract provides $12 million to Dynamic Fuels, which will supply biofuel made from used cooking oil and non-food-grade animal fats, the Defense Department said. Solazyme will help Dynamic Fuels fulfill the contract by providing more of the algae-derived fuel used in the Navy’s biofuel destroyer experiment last month.
The fuels will be combined in a 50-50 blend with petroleum-based diesel and aviation fuel and used to power the U.S. ships and aircraft taking part in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, scheduled to take place off the coast of Hawaii next summer, said U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
The carrier that anchors the strike group will be nuclear-powered, Mabus noted. But all other Navy craft involved in the exercise will be powered by biofuel. The Navy plans to follow the RIMPAC demonstration with a multi-month carrier group deployment in 2016 using 50 percent biofuel for surface ships and aircraft, Mabus said.
Often called “drop-in” fuels, the Dynamic Fuels and Solazyme products can work without engine modifications, and the Navy has already certified that its ship and aircraft engines will perform on the new fuels, Mabus said.
Mabus said the fuel “met all our criteria – that it be a drop-in biofuel, that it come from non-food sources and that it not increase the carbon footprint.”
While the DLA purchase is only a small fraction of the Navy’s annual fuel consumption of 1.26 billion gallons, supporting America’s fledgling biofuel industry will ultimately make the Navy “better war fighters” by reducing dependence on foreign oil, increasing the nation’s ability to compete the global energy market and supporting domestic agriculture, the Navy secretary said.
Th use of fossil fuels “is a very real threat to our national security, and to the U.S. Navy’s ability to protect America and to project power overseas,” Mabus said.
The Agricultural Research Service, National Forest Service and Agriculture Department have been working with the biofuel industry to develop additional non-food “feed stocks,” provide grants and research supply chain management to ensure biofuel products can efficiently reach the Navy and other emerging markets, including commercial aircraft carriers, said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.