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Federal Government Investing in Biorefineries for Military


Three companies were awarded contract to construct biorefineries for “drop in” biofuels for the military and private sector on Friday. The Departments of Navy, Energy and Agriculture announced the contracts under a 2011 presidential directive. The contracts are part of the Obama Administration’s goal to boost and diversify the domestic fuel base, according to Friday’s announcement. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus stated “The contracts being announced today will help expand the operational capability of our Navy and Marine Corps around the world.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commented “”Any time our military can use more American grown fuels instead of relying on foreign sources it makes our armed forces more energy secure.” In total, these projects will produce more than 100 million gallons of military grade fuel beginning in 2016 and 2017 at a price competitive with their petroleum counterparts.

Under the contracts awarded Friday, Emerald Biofuels will build an 82 million gallon per year refinery on the Gulf Coast using waste fats to create military grade fuel. Fulcrum BioEnergy will build a 10 million gallon per year refinery in McCarran, Nevada using municipal solid waste as its feedstock. USDA announced a $105 million Biorefinery Assistance Program loan guarantee for that facility earlier this month. Also, Red Rock Biofuel will build a 12 million gallon per year refinery in Lakeview, Oregon using woody biomass, or the by-products of forest management, as its feedstock. The drop-in alternative fuels can be blended at a 50/50 ratio with traditional fossil fuels. This blend was successfully demonstrated during the Rim of the Pacific demonstration in 2012 for ships and planes, showing the fuel can be utilized in the Navy’s warfighting platforms with no degradation to performance or mission.