Algae-powered Navy ship sails 1200 miles

The USS Ford sailed from Everett, Wash. to San Diego using a biofuel derived from algae.

As many countries seek to use more clean energy, most of us are familiar with the usual suspects: solar, wind, water, to name a few. But using algae as a source of energy?

The U.S. Navy seems to think so. Its USS Ford frigate recently used 25,000 gallons of algae biofuel to power its voyage from Everett, Wash. down to San Diego - making this the Navy's largest trial of alternative fuel usage at a distance of around 1,200 nautical miles [PDF]. The trek was made using an algae-derived, hydro-processed oil, produced by San Francisco-based Solazyme, mixed in even proportions with F-76 military diesel fuel.

This effort followed a trip last November in which a remotely-controlled destroyer, powered by equal parts algae biofuel and standard petroleum fuel traveled around 150 miles in 17 hours up the California coast. Following that trip, the Navy said "there was absolutely no difference, whatsoever, in the operation or performance of the ship” using the algae derivative. Solazyme said results were the same on the more recent trip.

The Navy plans to deploy a "Great Green Fleet" by 2016 which will be powered entirely by alternative fuels. It has also set a target of 50 percent alternative energy usage by 2020.

Solazyme produces the biofuel by fermenting algae to produce an oil that can be refined into fuel. The Navy has also been working with Louisiana-based Dynamic Fuels, a company that produces biofuel out of cooking oil and non-food-grade animal fats. In December 2011, the Navy agreed to purchase 450,000 gallons of biofuels for $12 million from both companies, to provide energy for a carrier group in maritime exercises later this year.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

via [EarthTechling]

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