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December 31, 2013
USDA announces biofuel and nano-project partnership

Continuing its goal of weaving agriculture and forestry into energy security and manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an initiative involving biofuels.

Drop-in biofuels for Navy

Under the Farm-to-Fleet partnership between the USDA and the Navy, biofuel blends will be incorporated into regular Department of Defense solicitations for jet engine and marine diesel fuels.  Specifically, the Navy will seek to purchase JP-5 (the primary fuel for jets on aircraft carriers) and F-76 (diesel fuel used in shipboard engines, gas turbines, and boilers) drop-in biofuels blended from 10 percent to 50 percent with conventional fuels.  

The USDA and the Navy have been cooperating for several years on increasing the use of home-grown biofuels in military operations, a goal explicitly promoted by President Obama.  In 2011, the two agencies signed a memorandum of understanding that included the goal of meeting half the Navy’s total energy consumption for ships, aircraft, tanks, vehicles, and shore installations with alternative fuels by 2020.  The U.S. military is the nation’s largest consumer of petroleum fuel. 

According to the agencies, the announcement marks the first time alternative fuels such as advanced drop-in biofuels will be available for purchase through regular procurement practices.  “It lowers barriers for alternative domestic fuel suppliers to do business with the Department of Defense,” state the agencies.  They add that preliminary indications from the Defense Production Act Title III Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project are that drop-in biofuels will be available for less than $4 per gallon by 2016, making them competitive with traditional sources of fuel. 

The announced undertaking will be aided by funds from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.

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