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Pentagon to Use Algae as Jet Fuel

02/17/2010 11:41 AM

"The brains trust of the Pentagon says it is just months away from producing a jet fuel from algae for the same cost as its fossil-fuel equivalent.

The claim, which comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) that helped to develop the internet and satellite navigation systems, has taken industry insiders by surprise."

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#1

Re: Pentagon to Use Algae as Jet Fuel

02/17/2010 11:48 AM

Wonderful news, but let's take a look at consumption. How much jet fuel is used globally in 24 hours. Does anyone know?

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Pentagon to Use Algae as Jet Fuel

02/17/2010 5:53 PM

Good question.

I found this: http://www.airlines.org/economics/energy/MonthlyJetFuel.htm

This data is for U.S. based passenger and cargo airlines for scheduled and nonscheduled (charter) services. US Military consumption, as well as global military information, seems to require some secret handshake.

So, about 46.6 million gallons of fuel a day, for US based airlines only (and some digging would be required to see who that is).

I don't even want to make a SWAG for the total number...

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Pentagon to Use Algae as Jet Fuel

02/17/2010 7:12 PM

The article says the initial production target is 50 million gal/yr. But they didn't mention how many gallons they will be getting per square meters or acres of algae.

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#4
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Re: Pentagon to Use Algae as Jet Fuel

02/17/2010 8:12 PM

I saw a figure of 1000 gallons/ acre

the key would be finding a strain that can be cultivated in open ponds & still produce large quantities of oil

I will further speculate that the strain would have to be crossbred with indigious strains, quantities of the superstrain continually reintroduced to keep the yield up.

If the Airforce cracked that part of the problem, the rest is easy, by comparison

you could certainly go the cellulostic route with algae, the growth rate being huge.

A combination of cellulosic ethanol & a oil with a better cloud point than canola oil would produce some kick arse biodiesel for use as jet fuel.

A rule of thumb for the cloud point of oil is

the preferred climate of the oil producing plant is indicative of the cloud point of the oil. Canola [Rapeseed],having one of the lower cloud points

One of the limiting factors of using biodiesel for jet fuel is the operating conditions [brr cold]

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Pentagon to Use Algae as Jet Fuel

02/18/2010 1:05 PM

So, if I am reading the information from the link in #2 correctly (I might not be), in one day, the fleet of US based commercial aviation will consume the output for an entire year?

[edit] Yeah, something is wrong with the numbers... Article sez US military consumes 75 million barrels per annum, 42 Gal/barrel, /365 days = 8.3 million gallons per day. That is correct if the barrel referenced is FUEL, not oil.

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#6
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Re: Pentagon to Use Algae as Jet Fuel

02/18/2010 3:50 PM

A couple of years ago California alone consumed 8 billion gallons of diesel per annum. the numbers are staggering

the US military has been working for years to move to one standard fuel, to simplify the logistics... They are even buying diesel Motocycles for the couriers.

There was also talk of having mini refineries in the field [ or onboard aircraft carriers] to convert the garbage into syngas

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#7

Re: Pentagon to Use Algae as Jet Fuel

02/18/2010 9:16 PM

There is no doubt in my mind algae can be used to produce oil at less cost than rhe current world price of crude. DARPA is just a start though because the right way to do the job will be a while off. The rule is we do everything wrong first and then find a better way. But, at least they say it can be done at low cost.

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