Saturday, April 13, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, July 26, 2012
Navy Pushes Biofuel Fleet Despite Concerns About Damage to Equipment
By Heritage Foundation @ 5:36 AM :: 6111 Views :: National News, Ethics

Navy Pushes Biofuel Fleet Despite Concerns About Damage to Equipment

by Melanie Wilcox, Heritage Foundation

The U.S. military is touting biofuels as a way to sever itself from diesel and other fossil fuels. While the high cost of biofuel purchases is a major roadblock to the Navy’s “Green Fleet” plans, as Scribe documented on Monday [2], some observers have noted a more fundamental — and troubling — problem. Biofuels may actually damage military equipment.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus plans to use a 50-50 blend of conventional fuels and biofuels for his “Great Green Fleet [3],” a Carrier Strike Group composed of a destroyer, tanker and an aircraft carrier that are fueled by alternative energy sources. Mabus plans to have half the Navy fleet on alternative fuels by 2020.

While congressional leaders, including Rep. Mike Conaway [4] (R-TX), have balked at the high costs of biofuels at almost $27 per gallon for 450,000 gallons, other observers note the other problem: potential damage that biofuels could do to the machinery it powers.

Rice University professor Pedro Alvarez [5] examined the unintended consequences that might result from large-scale production and use of bioenergy in the United States, particularly ethanol, in a January 2010 study [6] that he co-authored. The study concluded that there needs to be greater knowledge about the long-term effects of bioenergy before large-scale implementation.

“The overall effect of using biofuels to power maritime vessels,” Alvarez told Scribe, “is high potential for corrosion on their tanks” due to high levels of bacteria in those fuels.

Jason S. Lee, an engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, also warned of the potential for corrosion. “Susceptibility of biodiesel to … biodegradation and its propensity to stimulate biocorrosion suggest caution when integrating this alternate fuel with the existing infrastructure,” he found in a 2010 study conducted by the University of Oklahoma and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory on the impact of biodiesel on metal.

“The blending of biodiesel with traditional diesel resulted in the first known demonstration of localized corrosion of aluminum in the fuel layer itself,” he later told Corr Defense [7].

A 2010 study from Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center [8] at the Oakridge National Laboratory in Tennessee raised the same concern. “Dissolved water in biofuels can … contribute to corrosion and stress corrosion cracking. Stress corrosion cracking of mild steel may be of particular concern with ethanol,” the study found.

The Navy did not return multiple requests for comment on the potentially corrosive nature of biofuels on military equipment.

But congressional leaders are concerned. Rep. Randy Forbes [9] (R-VA), a member of the Armed Services Committee, insists that potential side effects have not been adequately studied. “We have not examined those studies, but like anything else we do, our biggest concern is that we do the analysis before we make huge moves in either direction,” Forbes told Scribe.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees have approved provisions addressing the cost of biofuels in the 2013 Defense Authorization bill [10] currently making its way through Congress. Conaway authored a provision in the bill prohibiting the Defense Department from buying alternative fuels if the cost outweighs the price of petroleum fuels. It states members’ concern about “fluctuating fuel prices, and the resulting shortfalls and impacts on the operation and maintenance accounts.”

But Forbes noted that the Navy seems less concerned than other branches of the military – particularly the Air Force – with assessing possible unintended consequences of biofuels. “I think the Air Force’s suggestions have been a better approach,” he noted, “which is continuing to do research and development to see if they are going to have any impact on any of the engines.”

“The frustrating thing we’ve had with the Navy at this particular point in time is that they have set these goals that are arbitrary goals,” Forbes added. “They try to establish markets that are artificial markets, but every time we ask them for the analysis to justify, they haven’t given the analysis.”

“If someone comes up with a biofuel mix that works, and it tests and it works OK, then we’re going to buy it. But, we’re not going to artificially push that,” said Forbes.

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT