US Navy to Produce Biofuels, Bioenergy Worldwide

The U.S. Navy has signed an wide-ranging agreement with biofuels refinery developer Biodico – they will collaborate on developing advanced biofuels and bioenergy refineries for the US military – worldwide.

Biodico began working with the Navy in 2002. "Our objective is to privately fund sustainable biorefineries at DoD facilities around the world at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer, and to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil," says JJ Rothgery, Biodico’s Chairman of the Board.

The goal is to build biorefineries at Department of Defense (DoD) facilities that produce biofuels that replace petroleum diesel, bio-based products and renewable energy at the lowest possible cost. The collaboration is partially supported by grants from the California Energy Commission.

By producing these products on-site, the Navy can better secure its energy supplies, while moving toward its goal of cutting petroleum use 50% by 2020.

Technologies include transesterification, gasification, gas to liquids, hydrogenation, anaerobic digestion, catalysis, and the production and processing of feedstocks and co-products.

Developing production processes will also benefit the commercial sector by providing cost-effective manufacturing methods industries to produce their own renewable fuel and energy. 

"This collaboration will enhance our national security, provide new jobs and improve the environment. It will demonstrate and commercialize advanced biofuel and bioenergy technologies that will be utilized throughout the world. The integration of sustainable agriculture with renewable combined heat and power produced on-site will produce inexpensive advanced biofuels," says California State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura).

As part of the agreement, Biodico will build a biorefinery at the US Naval Base in Ventura County that will produce biofuels and bioenergy at prices competitive with unsubsidized conventional fuel and power. Construction of the plant will be partially funded by the California Energy Commission.

DoD has invested $5 billion a year in clean energy innovation since 2009, second only to the Department of Energy, according to an analysis by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, "Lean, Mean, and Clean II: Assessing DOD Investments in Clean Energy Innovation.

Out of the various military branches, the US Navy has invested the most – nearly $500 million in 2012. 

DoD spends $4 billion on energy bills each year, partly to  manage nearly 2.3 billion square feet of building space in 300,000 buildings in the US and around the world.

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Comments on “US Navy to Produce Biofuels, Bioenergy Worldwide”

  1. Cliff Claven

    Google “ethanol bankruptcy” to see how the bio-refinery business is going for the most government-favored and subsidized biofuel. Then imagine what poor KiOR and Solazyme face when trying to convince their investors that profits are only just several years away and keep sending in more cash. Biofuels are attempts at perpetual motion in chemistry: turning hydrocarbons into carbohydrates back into hydrocarbons. The artificial ammonia fertilizer and pesticides and herbicides and farm equipment fuel and bio-refinery processing energy and transportation fuel and hydrogen to hydrotreat the final product into the “drop-in” fuels required by the military and airlines all come from natural gas and petroleum. Even the designer enzymes used in the most advanced processes are made from organic compounds synthesized from petroleum feedstock. When all is said and done, the best of biofuels take 8:1 EROI petroleum and reduce the return to 2:1 EROI ethanol or biodiesel. Hydrotreatment drops these well below 1:1. Better to use petroleum directly as fuel and get the 8:1 return than accelerate it’s use making biofuels, and thereby also increasing lifecycle GHG emissions, environmental damage, and dependence on foreign oil. The Navy would be better off buying horses and bayonets than bio-refineries.

  2. Kevin

    Cliff is bending the facts quite a lot, or relying on the reports produced by anti-biofuels folks, who generally use a combination of low crop yields, outdated biofuel production numbers, and other chicanery to make biofuels look bad. In truth, ethanol returns much more energy as biofuel than is put into its production. Some people seem to forget that we have a magical thing called photosynthesis, which converts sunlight, water, some nutrients, and carbon dioxide into plants that are full of starches and sugars, which can be converted into fuel. In fact, most of the energy for biofuels comes from the sun. We fuel our own bodies this way when we eat corn; we can fuel our vehicles the same way.

    As biofuel technology advances, the energy balance gets better and better. Some ethanol plants have been fueled with manure, for instance, and that radically cuts the fossil-fuel inputs. Processes using non-fuel crops have even better energy returns. The military biofuels projects are trying to push the envelope on these advanced technologies, eliminating the food/fuel debate and cutting the military’s reliance on the very countries that it sees as a threat. This is the right approach for the military of the future, when fuel supplies will face even greater constraints than they do today.


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