It’s not often that I make a foray into the wild and crazy world of either aviation or military technology, since this is not an area in which I claim to have any knowledge or expertise. However, someone who DOES have a lot of knowledge and expertise in this area forwarded me this article today and I couldn’t help but re-po. Apparently, about two weeks ago, a V-22 osprey became the first Marine tilt-rotor aircraft to fly on biofuels. And, what made me REALLY happy was to see that the particular biofuels they chose were not corn ethanol based, but consisted of a 50/50 blend of camelina and standard petroleum-based fuels. Translation: this is the real deal when it comes to biofuels.
Of course, the article also referenced the energy goals outlined by the Secretary of the Navy, which I investigated a little further. The military hasn’t historically been concerned with their environmental footprint, whether it be in the form of fuel consumption, carbon emissions, or toxic and nuclear waste. However, there is evidence that this trend may be reversing – an exciting development, even if it is more in the name of national security and energy independence. I’m all for working to achieve the same goals, no matter what the reason.
The goals outlined included:
– Revisions to the Navy’s system for awarding contracts to allow consideration of the energy life cycle among other factors
– Creating a fleet powered by biofuels and nuclear and deploy it by 2016
– Reducing petroleum use fleet-wide by 50% by 2015
– Producing half of shore-based energy from renewable sources (solar, wind, and wave energy)
– By 2020, ensuring that 40% of the Navy’s total energy consumption comes from alternative sources.
I remain cautiously optimistic about this plan. It’s ambitious, for sure, but if there’s anyone that has a strong track record of forcing change and bringing new technologies to market, it’s the military. (GPS, anyone?) The aspect of the plan that involves nuclear does make me nervous, but I’ll let Kara get into that more if she wants to since nuclear is more her bag. On the surface, this looks like a great plan: biofuels are a promising immediate replacement while electric technology is still being worked out (especially since “electric” right now most frequently translates to “coal-based”), and I would love to see some of the on-ground technologies they’re talking about such as solar and wind get a boost. And, it’s neat to see that with the V-22 flight, they are actually moving forward on some of these goals.
The full article on the V-22 flight can be found here: