Did you realize that the United States Department of Defense uses over 117 million barrels of oil per year (2011)? That’s over 13 million gallons of fuel per day! According to Forbes, in 2007, the military was using 16 gallons per soldier per day (about $3 million in purchases each day). The US Military is the single largest consumer of energy in the country. Only 34 nations in the world consume more petroleum than the US Military! Three-quarters of the petroleum products consumed by the military is considered operational energy and is used outside the U.S. The logistics and security concerns of supplying that much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels to operating bases around the world are enormous, particularly in active combat areas. To reduce this risk and make the military more adaptable to various situations, biobased fuels have been a key focus.
The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy have been leading the efforts around biofuels. The Air Force set, and achieved, the goal to certify all of its aircraft to operate on a 50/50 biofuel petroleum blend. The fuels passed through the Air Force’s robust certification and testing process. These tests culminated in actual flight tests in various aircraft. Additionally, the famous Thunderbirds have performed utilizing biofuel blends. Testing aside, the ultimate goal of the Air Force is to supply 50 percent of their domestic aviation fuel requirements from alternative fuel blends by 2016.
The U.S. Navy has set ambitious goals that included deriving 50 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. To demonstrate its ability to operate on biofuels, the US Navy conducted a test of the Great Green Fleet in 2012. The group included an aircraft carrier and its air wing, as well as various destroyers, cruisers, and other surface ships. During the test, the ships and aircraft operated on a 50/50 blend of biofuel and petroleum fuels. The ships consumed 350,000 gallons of fuels and aircraft consumed an additional 100,000 gallons. The test went spectacularly with no problems identified. Since that test, the Navy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop biobased fuels and feedstocks for fuels.
To facilitate commercial supplies of the fuels they need, the U.S. Department of