U.S. Navy launches carrier group powered partly by biofuels

SAN DIEGO -- The U.S. Navy is launching a carrier strike group to be powered partly by biofuel, calling it a milestone toward easing the military's reliance on foreign oil.

See Full Article

But critics, including environmentalists, say biofuel production is too costly and on a large scale may do more harm than good.

Most of the group's ships will run on a mix of 90 per cent petroleum and only 10 per cent biofuels, though that could change. The Navy originally aimed for the ratio to be 50/50.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were scheduled on Wednesday to inspect the ships before they set sail off San Diego.

"In 2010, we were losing too many Marines in convoys carrying fossil fuels to outposts in Afghanistan, and the prohibitive cost of oil was requiring us to stop training at home in order to keep steaming abroad, a dangerous and unsustainable scenario," Mabus said in a statement.

The Defence Department uses 90 per cent of the energy consumed by the federal government, spending billions of dollars annually on petroleum fuels to support military operations.

All military branches are looking to cut their ties to foreign oil as part of a national security strategy. Since 2008, the Navy has cut oil consumption by 15 per cent since 2008 and the Marine Corps has reduced it by 60 per cent.

The Navy is aiming to draw half its power from alternative energy sources by 2020 so ships can refuel less, stay out at sea longer and no longer be at the mercy of fluctuating oil prices and oil-producing nations, Mabus said.

The federal government has invested more than $500 million into drop-in biofuels, which can be used without reconfiguring engines. The fleet also includes nuclear vessels, hybrid electric ships and aircraft powered partly by biofuels.

The Navy in 2009 called for ships to run on 50 per cent biofuel and 50 per cent petroleum. After that, the price for a barrel of oil topped $100 and has since dropped to as low as $29 a barrel.

Some of the biofuel comes from beef fat from the Midwest. Similar contracts are in the works to fuel ships elsewhere.

Retired Navy Capt. Todd "Ike" Keifer, who has published a study on the Navy's plan, said he does not believe the Navy will ever get "any meaningful quantities of cost-competitive biofuels."

"Biofuels sound good, but it turns out that making carbohydrates (biomass) into hydrocarbons (ideal fuels) is a very laborious and wasteful process that is far more costly and much harder on the environment than producing fossil fuels," he said.

Environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel at The Rockefeller University in New York City said biofuels are renewable but not green since they require so much land, fertilizer, pesticide and fuel to produce them.

"There are many ways that the fleet could become truly greener -- through more efficient propulsion, for example," Ausubel wrote in an email to The Associated Press.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • G7 leaders agree to fight protectionism, U.S. still not on board on climate agreement

    Tech & Science CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to include a pledge to fight trade protectionism in a final communique due to be released later on Saturday at the end of a summit of Group of Seven leaders, a G7 source said. Source
  • Selfies with seal pups a no-no: U.S. science agency

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- U.S. officials are warning people not to take selfies with seals, no matter how tempting. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries office says seal pupping season is underway in New England and that means people might see seal pups on the beach during Memorial Day weekend. Source
  • Planting trees can't counter carbon emissions: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new report from the Potsdam Institute in Germany shows that planting trees and other plants to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere cannot substitute for cutting carbon emissions. Growing trees and other kinds of "biomass" have been thought of as an effective countermeasure against our rising global carbon emissions. Source
  • Secretive Facebook project wants to turn thoughts to text

    Tech & Science CBC News
    more stories from this episodeThe Manchester bombing and the resilience of teenage girlsOntario Regional Chief says Thunder Bay can't keep Indigenous youth safeJustin Bieber, 'Despacito' and the rise of reggaeton in North American popRyan McMahon's 12-step guide to decolonizing CanadaSecretive Facebook project wants to turn thoughts to text'Party crashers' try to swing the Conservative leadership to Michael ChongRiffed from the Headlines 27/05/2017Full Episode Source
  • Ontario community's work to prevent turtles, snakes being killed a model for others

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A rural Ontario community's work to prevent endangered reptiles from being killed on a 3.6-kilometre stretch of road -- once considered among the world's deadliest for turtles -- is being held up as a successful example of how to protect vulnerable wildlife. Source
  • 'Far Cry 5' sneak peek: 5 things we've learned [Photos]

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    MONTREAL – The action-heavy Far Cry video game series has always been known for its exotic settings: tropical Pacific islands, sun-baked African savannahs, the lush valleys and snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. And now… uh, Montana? Game studio Ubisoft Montreal is taking Far Cry into unexplored yet timely territory with next year’s Far Cry 5. Source
  • Europeans try to convince Trump not to pull out of climate accord

    Tech & Science CBC News
    European leaders have mounted a last-ditch effort to stop President Donald Trump from abandoning the Paris climate accord, using multiple meetings this week to sell the American leader on the global agreement to reduce carbon emissions. Source
  • Endangered turtles saved by citizens of Ontario hamlet

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Long Point is a popular camping destination in southern Ontario, a rich ecological site with an abundance of wildlife, and part of UNESCO's World Biosphere Reserve. It is full of marshes, dunes, beaches and forests. Source
  • D.C. zoo officials hoping get panda Mei Xiang pregnant again

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Zoo officials in Washington are hoping to get panda mom Mei Xiang pregnant -- again. Smithsonian National Zoo officials say they performed two artificial inseminations Thursday on 18-year-old Mei Xiang. Officials say they were closely monitoring her for when to do the procedure. Source
  • D.C. zoo officials hoping to get panda Mei Xiang pregnant again

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Zoo officials in Washington are hoping to get panda mom Mei Xiang pregnant -- again. Smithsonian National Zoo officials say they performed two artificial inseminations Thursday on 18-year-old Mei Xiang. Officials say they were closely monitoring her for when to do the procedure. Source