U.S. Navy leads the charge to break our oil dependence
Of the $1.3 billion the federal government spends fueling its hundreds of thousands vehicles each year, the vast majority — 78 percent — is spent on gasoline. But if the Navy has its way, it may not be that way for much longer.
Approximately 30 percent of U.S. government vehicles are flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), meaning they can run on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. And the U.S. wants to make sure those vehicles are taking full advantage of the high-octane fuel.
As reported by the Navy Exchange Service Command’s Public Affairs office:
“Using E85 reduces our country’s reliance on foreign oil and burns cleaner than gasoline, reducing hydrocarbon emissions,” says Larry Boone, Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) Automotive Program Manager. “Not only that, but E85 is produced in the U.S., mostly from corn feedstock, and that keeps the American farmer in business.”
The price of E85, in general, runs about 10 to 25 cents cheaper than regular unleaded gas and according to some studies, E85 emits less hydrocarbons, or Green House Gases (GHGs).
However, military officials are worried that some of their FFVs aren’t being fueled by American-made E85. The reason? People simply don’t know they’re supposed to be using the alternative fuel.
Instead of just wringing their hands though, the Navy — which has been a proponent of alternative fuels for a while now — is investigating different ways ensure their service members are fueling up with E85. Besides building more stations that carry E85, the Navy is looking into putting stickers on their vehicles’ gas caps and dashboards, as well as hanging tags on the rearview mirror of each car.
It’s an important, and admirable, mission. For starters, one of the major reasons E85 hasn’t caught on more broadly in the United States — despite there being more than 19 million FFVs on the road — is a lack of fueling infrastructure. What’s more, the main reason gasoline is still the primary fuel used in our vehicles is because of oil’s monopoly on our transportation sector that stifles fuel choice. This initiative is working directly to combat that by reducing our dependence on gasoline while simultaneously promoting alternative fuels like E85 and building more stations — many of which are available to civilians as well.
Just another reasons to love our armed forces and all they do for us on a daily basis.
The U.S. Navy has been on the cutting edge of this discussion for more than 100 years. In 1907 and 1908, the Navy conducted 2,000 tests comparing ethanol and gasoline. Their conclusion was that ethanol-optimized engines using ethanol will perform at least equal to gasoline-optimized engines running on gasoline, and they will use approximately the same quantity of fuel. This was one of the first tests that proved gasoline is not superior to ethanol, and that the BTU rating of gasoline versus ethanol is irrelevant. The significant factor is engine optimization, not so called “energy content.”
You can read the entire report at http://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/0392/report.pdf.
Methanol, instead of ethanol, should become the fuel choice for the U.S. Navy. With all the hungry people in our world, converting corn into fuel is immoral.
We’re fans of methanol too John! But the truth is that the food vs. fuel argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. More here: http://www.fuelfreedom.org/food-vs-fuel-its-not-what-you-think/
Nathan, you are exactly correct.
I love Fuel Freedom Foundation. Your contribution is invaluable. I wish I could donate to FFF but my resources go to Bioroot Energy and what I believe is will be a liquid fuel that exceeds the quality of either methanol or ethanol alone because of greater energy density and burn properties. Please bear in mind that corn and corn stover can be used as feedstock for mixed alcohol fuel production, as is virtually any carbonaceous materials. Mixed alcohol fuel is a mix of alcohol compounds in an analogous sense that petroleum is a mix of hydrocarbons. Methanol and ethanol are both pretty much pure chemicals. A mixture of alcohol appears to have better ignition properties than a single alcohol. There are other reasons why mixed alcohol fuel may be a improvement over either methanol and ethanol. One last comment about alcohol fuels in general is that unlike petroleum, which is produced from a single feedstock to produce several kinds of fuels, alcohol is a handful of fuels that are produced from multiple feedstocks: corn, sugar cane, garbage, crude oil, natural gas, lumber slash, ocean garbage gyre plastic, food waste, ag residue, coal, carbon dioxide (as in http://www.carbonrecycling.is), whatever is carbonaceous. Like hydrocarbons, the energy in alcohols is stored in the covalent carbon-hydrogen bond. Hydrocarbons and alcohols are in fact part of the hydrogen economy, unbeknownst to people in general. Hydrogen is best stored chemically bound to carbon. We can store hydrogen bound to nitrogen. But, the predominant nitrogen compound it ammonia, which as everyone knows is very corrosive and it is a nutrient that pollutes water bodies. Alcohol is preferential over hydrocarbons because when one reforms waste materials, trying to chemically strip off the last oxygen off of an alcohol molecule is too energy intensive and totally unnecessary. Anyway, I’ve put a lot of thought into this area of endeavor and agree with Olah et al. and Henry Ford that the future is with alcohol, the best energy storage material known to man. Thank you for reading and if you could support Bioroot a little more then I believe Bioroot and humanity would be very grateful. And thank you for the great work you do!