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October 22, 2010

Navy demonstrates alternative fuel in riverine vessel

The U.S. Navy is testing a "drop in replacement" for standard shipboard fuel that is 50 percent algae-based and 50 percent NATO F-76 fuel. Today it conducted a full power demonstration of a Riverine Command Boat (experimental) (RCB-X) powered by the fuel at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Testing and evaluation of alternative fuels from the 49-ft fast RCB-X boat supports the Secretary of the Navy's efforts to reduce the fleet's reliance on fossil fuels and is part of a series of progressively complex tests and evaluations scheduled through 2012. These exhibitions will culminate in 2012 with a Green Strike Group of U.S. Navy ships operating locally and by 2016 deploying a Great Green Fleet powered entirely by alternative fuels.

"Going green is about combat capability and assuring Navy's mobility. It is not just about natural security; it also strengthens national security. By having reliable and abundant alternate sources of energy, we will no longer be held hostage by any one source of energy, such as petroleum," said Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, Director of the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division (OPNAV N45), which leads the Navy's Task Force Energy.

"First and foremost, energy conservation extends tactical range of our forces while also preserving precious resources. Our goal, as a Navy, is to be an "early adopter" of new technologies that enhance national security in an environmentally sustainable way," said Cullom.

The 50 percent algae-based and 50 percent NATO F-76 fuel forms a 50/50 blend of hydro-processed renewable diesel, also known in industry as "HR-D." But don't call it biofuel. HR-D, unlike biofuel, does not include water which is incompatible for shipboard fuel systems and does not have the limited serviceable life (typically six months) of biofuels. A blended hydro-processed renewable diesel fuel ensures that the integrity of the fuel system is maintained.

The Navy is incorporating a systematic approach of evaluating systems, protocols and standard operating procedures. The testing and certification represents a cost-effective approach for the entire engine inventory.

The testing and evaluation is being led by Naval Sea Systems Command's Advanced Fuels program office.


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