US Navy Adding Biobutanol To Alt-Fuel Repertoire

But Cobalt believes it is on to something with an advanced catalyst for producing biobutanol. The company announced in early March that a demonstration project with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory “resulted in high sugar conversion (the amount of sugar consumed by the bacteria) and high yields of butanol (the amount of butanol produced by the bacteria).”  The company said the tests confirm that its “process to produce renewable butanol is 40-60 percent less expensive than production of petroleum-based butanol using the traditional oxo-alcohol process.”

u.s. navy biofuels

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The bio n-butanol jet fuel for the military will be processed at Albemarle’s Baton Rouge, La., plant and will be closely monitored by the Aircraft Division of the NAWCAD to ensure it passes the standards of the U.S. Department of Defense, according to the Cobalt press release.

In addition to extensive testing in Navy ships, we have also seen the military testing aviation biofuels. Last October the Navy fueled the unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Take-Off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with a combination of JP-5 aviation fuel and plant-based camelina. Such blends have been tested by the Air Force in F-22 Raptors while the Navy has used blends in seven different aircraft, including the high-profile Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron.

Shifra Mincer is a freelance journalist and passionate tweeter (@Shiframincer) currently living in Israel. Before moving to Israel to apprentice with a homebirth midwife, Shifra worked as Associate Editor of AOL Energy, and was a member of the launch team that got the site up and running. Shifra has over a half a decade of experience in journalism and has written on women's health, green technology, politics and regulation of the energy industry, energy financial news, and local news. While studying for her B.A. at Harvard College, Shifra worked as a news editor for the Harvard Crimson. Shifra is also a yoga teacher and a birth doula and is hoping to create an active Jewish birth community through her web venture

1 Comment

  • Reply May 17, 2012


    The Navy sets a new Department of Defense record for biofuel price with this purchase.  $245,000 to Albemarle Corp. to convert 100 gallons of biobutanol into 55 gallons of jet fuel. That’s $4,454.55 a gallon, and that does not include the cost of creating the Cobalt biobutanol in the first place.

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