'Great Green Fleet' Tests Biofuels in Hawaii Exercise

July 25, 2012

Photo of two Navy ships sailing.

The U.S. Navy tested its "Great Green Fleet," a Carrier Strike Group's aircraft and surface ships, on advanced biofuel.
Credit: U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy recently used advanced biofuel to power its "Great Green Fleet," a selection of aircraft and surface ships of the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Strike Group, to test the fuel's performance in an operational setting. The demonstration took place on July 17 and 18 off the coast of Hawaii as part of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise. The operation was the first ever using biofuels in an exercise of this scale. The biofuel blends are 50-50 mixtures of biofuel (made from used cooking oil and algae) and either petroleum-based marine diesel or aviation fuel. Approximately 450,000 gallons of 100% biofuel were purchased in 2011 in preparation for the Great Green Fleet demonstration.

During this operation, the Great Green Fleet also showcased energy efficiency technology that increase combat capability by allowing Navy ships to achieve greater range and reduction of dependence on a vulnerable logistics supply chain. Further, this demonstration included the following maritime efficiency measures: the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to save energy, especially when replacing incandescent fixtures or in colored lighting applications; a ship energy dashboard which provides real-time situational awareness of energy demand associated with equipment; and a smart voyage planning decision aid, which sends messages to ships with optimized routing plans for both ship safety and fuel savings. The Navy signed a Statement of Cooperation with the Royal Australian Navy to formalize future cooperation on alternative fuel deployment.

The demonstration is a component of a broader administration effort to reduce reliance on imported petroleum by partnering with the private sector to speed the commercialization of next-generation biofuels. For example, in early July the Energy Department, the Navy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $30 million in funding to support commercialization of "drop-in" biofuel substitutes for diesel and jet fuel, and the Energy Department announced an additional $32 million to support research into advanced biofuel technologies that are in earlier stages of development. See the USDA press release , the Navy website, and the July 5 EERE Network News.