The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Seafaring Biofuels: Finding the Right Fuel for the Fleet

As the largest user of diesel in the U.S., the Navy is vulnerable to disruptions in fuel supply. To help in the search for alternative fuels, the Navy has awarded a $2 million grant to a University of Wisconsin engineering professor to find the right fuel for the fleet.

For the next two years, Rolf Reitz and his team will be developing a model to work out the right mix of biofuel for the Navy’s fleet. Reitz’s work is critical because Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has committed to cutting the fleet’s petroleum use in half by 2015, but ships can’t run on just any oil substitute.

The fuels can’t be water soluble, for example.

“The Navy maintains the ballast on ships by pumping water into the fuel tanks as the fuel level decreases. This keeps them floating properly,” Reitz explains. “Some alternative bio-derived fuels are somewhat soluble in water, and hence are not suitable for the Navy.”

The fuel also can’t be readily flammable. On board a ship or submarine, a fire “is a much bigger deal than on land, because there is nowhere to escape to,” Reitz says. “Therefore, maritime fuels must have higher ‘flash points’, or temperature at which they will ignite.”

This strikes a few more alternative fuels off the list.

One fuel that may fit the bill: hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), also called renewable diesel.

Renewable diesel is chemically similar to diesel, but is produced using recently living biomass. It can be processed in the same facilities as petroleum, and mixed with diesel for use as a transportation fuel. This makes it more attractive to the Navy than biodiesel, which according to Reitz, is somewhat water soluble, turns rancid like cooking oil and can leave deposits on fuel injectors.

The challenge, says Reitz, is finding the right “proportion of diesel and HVO fuel that would give satisfactory performance in existing Navy engines.”

Since the HVO/diesel recipe can vary, the model Reitz and his team are developing simulates each blend’s performance in an engine – a process requiring thousands of lines of computer code.

Even though it is being developed for the Navy, the model has broader application. According to Reitz,  “any diesel engine or heavy oil combustion system, like furnaces, can use HVOs blended with diesel.”

It can take several days to run just one engine cycle so the modeling will likely not be completed until 2014, according to Reitz.

Top image: The aircraft carrier USS George Washington during a fueling at sea, courtesy U.S. Navy.

This article was originally published on ecomagination and was republished with permission.

Untitled Document


States Already Seek To Delay Clean Power Plan

Andrew Harris, Bloomberg Fifteen states led by coal-rich West Virginia asked a federal court to stall Obama administration rules intended to c...

Campus Flora Fuels Research into Bioenergy-Inspired Energy Storage

Joe McCune, Missouri S&T Dr. Umit Koylu, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology,...

Sugarcane Bioethanol Project in Sierra Leone Underscores the Challenge of Producing Bionergy in the Developing World

Andrew Burger West Africa may be one of the most difficult and dangerous regions of the world in which to work, posing challenges t...

Unlikely Allies in North Carolina Clean-Energy Fight

Mark Drajem, Bloomberg With North Carolina’s renewable energy mandate under assault from Republican legislators, green groups seeking to sav...


Array Technologies’ DuraTrack HZ v3 Continues to (R)evolutionize at SPI

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) prepares to showcase its recently launched tracking syst...

Appalachian's Energy Center assists counties with landfill gas to energy projects

The Appalachian Energy Center at Appalachian State University recently completed a proj...

Early Bird Registration Deadline for GRC Annual Meeting is This Week

The deadline for early-bird rates for registration for the biggest annual geothermal ev...

Redesigned Video Gallery

Hydropower news and information, and interesting promotional announcements are now avai...


Transitioning to Net-Zero Living

Judith and Jeffrey adore living in Belfast, Maine – a quaint harbor town of Belfast, Maine. They previously res...

The True Cost of Electric Vehicles in Australia

In order to avoid increased congestion, further greenhouse warming and lessen Australia’s reliance on imported ...

The Coming Multi-trillion Dollar Energy Investment Drive

In coming years, a multi-trillion dollar low-emission energy investment drive will get underway. Three catalysts wil...

The Perfect Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is a concise statement that grabs attention and communicates value, ideally leading to a next step...



Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



2015 AREDAY Summit

The 12th Annual AREDAY Summit, August 8-13th in Snowmass Colorado. Engag...

StartUp Green

AREI, American Renewable Energy Institute, in partnership with ...

SAP for Utilities

SAP for Utilities is North America’s most comprehensive utilities ...


New coating extends cylinder life 8 times longer than traditional c...

Hydroelectric turbine systems operate in extremely harsh conditions. The...

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

SAP for Utilities Blog

The Eventful Group produces the annual SAP for Utilites Conference ...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now