First grant recipients named under DOD advanced biofuels program

By Anna Simet | May 28, 2013

The U.S. Department of Defense has issued three contracts totaling $16 million for biofuel plants intended to help power fighter jets and destroyers by 2016, as part of the Defense Production Act’s Advanced Drop-In Biofuels Production Project.

The DPA Project is focused on creating public-private partnerships that will provide incentives for private-sector investment in cost competitive, advanced biofuels production capability, while  establishing one or more complete domestic value chains capable of producing drop-in replacement biofuels.  This includes feedstock production and logistics, product blending and transportation, as well as the design, retrofit/construction, operation, validation, and qualification of domestic, commercial-scale, integrated biorefineries. 

The selected projects will involve the design, construction and/or retrofit, and operation of a domestic commercial-scale integrated biofuels production enterprise (IBPE) that meets a nominal target of at least 10 MMgy per year of biofuel production capacity, according to the DOD.  IBPEs will be capable of producing drop-in liquid transportation fuels targeted for military operational use, and must be approved and certified MILSPEC JP-5, JP-8 and/or F-76 equivalents by the time the facility becomes operational.

Award winners are Golf, Ill.-based Emerald Biofuels LLC, Natures BioReserve LLC in South Sioux City, Neb., and Fulcrum Brighton Biofuels LLC in Pleasanton, Calif. Grant recipients under the Advanced Drop-In Biofuels Production Project are required responsible for matching private investments.

A broad coalition of advanced biofuel industry stakeholders and supporters, including the Advanced Biofuel Association, Algae Biomass Organization, Airlines for America and the National Farmers Union, have voiced their support for the DOD’s selection of the grant recipients through the program, pointing out that the DOD has estimated that every 25 cent increase in the price of a gallon of petroleum-based fuel costs the military $1 billion in additional fuel costs. “It is increasingly important to find domestically produced alternatives to improve the country's energy security, meet global energy demands, and provide jobs, while strengthening our military and domestic economy,” the group stated.



1 Responses

  1. Cliff Claven



    "Every 25 cent increase in the price of a gallon of petroleum-based fuel costs the military $1 billion in additional fuel costs." Then why are we paying $50 a gallon for biofuels and pumping hundreds of millions into more biorefineries? If this was about saving the military and the taxpayers money, the administration would just buy commercial petroleum fuel at $3.12 a gallon in bulk instead of throwing money down this hole. I Hydrotreated "drop-in" biofuels are $30 to $70 a gallon because they requires several times more energy to make than they deliver, and the energy wasted to make them is non-renewable fossil fuel: natural gas for fertilizer and hydrotreatment hydrogen and plant energy, and petroleum for herbicides and pesticides and equipment fuel and fancy enzymes, etc.. The military has already proved this is a dead end with camelina and tallow from Sustainable Oils and Dynamic Fuels (Tyson/Syntroleum) and Honeywell UOP/Cargill. Converting algae and alcohols to drop-in fuels is even more expensive, running $60-$4,500 a gallon, and the miltary has evaluated this pathway with Solazyme and Gevo and Cobalt/Albemarle and Honeywell UOP. The military has already bought 1.36 million gallons of biofuels and paid an average of more than $50 a gallon for them. The most recent purchase in March was $59 a gallon from Gevo. The prices are not coming down. Now, instead of buying the fuel, the military is buying new biorefineries, even though hundreds around the country are closed, bankrupt, and being auctioned off in fire sales. Google "biofuel bankruptcy" to see for yourself. This campaign donor gravy train seems like it will never stop, no matter how insolvent our government gets and no matter how much money must be diverted from a military whose readiness is already threatened by the sequester. Every dollar spent on biofuels is bad for the economy, bad for the taxpayer, bad for the military, and bad for national security. Biofuels are just a way to waste fossil fuel faster and use taxpayer money to buy votes from big ag states and pay back campaign bundlers.


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