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

  • Uber to take to the skies with 'flying cars'

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Uber is taking to the skies with its next project — “flying cars” — even as all eyes are on its problems on the ground. On Tuesday, the embattled ride-hailing company announced plans for an on-demand network of electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. Source
  • Say what? How a Canadian company can clone your voice

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The gap between human voices and computer voices is closing. A new Canadian startup called Lyrebird says it can copy anyone's voice and make them say anything. What is Lyrebird? It's a Canadian company that specializes in speech synthesis software. Source
  • Advocate notches victory for computer buyers after battery didn't match promise

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HALIFAX -- A young Halifax man famous for repeatedly taking on the big airlines has won a victory against a new multinational corporate foe: Dell computers. Gabor Lukacs won just a small amount -- $1,889.32 -- but it could feel like a major achievement for anyone who was been unhappy with a consumer product, or who has been unwilling to sign a confidentiality agreement after being compensated for a disappointing purchase. Source
  • Meet Steve, the curious ribbon of purplish light discovered in Alberta skies

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Alberta sky watchers chasing the northern lights have partnered with scientists on the discovery of a curious ribbon of purplish light that everyone is calling "Steve." The feature is attracting attention for its unexpected name, as well as the way it was discovered, said Eric Donovan, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary. Source
  • Fiat Chrysler expands Google self-driving car fleet to 500

    Tech & Science CBC News
    ?Fiat Chrysler and Google for the first time will offer rides to the public in the self-driving vehicles they are building under an expanding partnership, with Google expanding its fleet to 500 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. Source
  • World's last male rhino getting help from Tinder dating app

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NAIROBI, Kenya -- The world's last male northern white rhino has joined the Tinder dating app as wildlife experts make a last-chance breeding effort to keep his species alive. "I don't mean to be too forward, but the fate of the species literally depends on me," the rhino's profile says. Source
  • Google targets 'fake news,' offensive search suggestions

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Google has sprinkled some new ingredients into its search engine in an effort to prevent bogus information and offensive suggestions from souring its results. The changes announced Tuesday reflects Google's confidence in a new screening system designed to reduce the chances that its influential search engine will highlight untrue stories about people and events, a phenomenon commonly referred to as "fake news. Source
  • More Antarctic protections urged on World Penguin Day

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The world needs to do more to protect the Antarctic wilderness and its wildlife, scientists warned Tuesday, as they marked World Penguin Day. The flightless seabirds -- a favourite with children for their clumsy, waddling gait -- offer a useful yardstick for researchers to judge the health of their habitat. Source
  • Facebook says its mind-reading project is all about improving our lives. Yeah... right

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Last week, Facebook announced that it's working on new technology to read our minds — yes, you read that right — all in the interest of making our lives easier. That's according to Regina Dugan, who is heading up Facebook's innovation team. Source
  • UNHCR, Malaysian firm launch mobile app on refugee struggle

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Malaysia Richard Towle, left, and Executive Creative Director of GREY Malaysia, Graham Drew, right, shows the application "Finding Home" on their phones during a launch at the UNHCR headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Source