The greening of Navy blue: a progress report

Wednesday - 1/5/2011, 10:40am EST

Tom Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy

Click below to hear the interview

Download mp3

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

What's big, gray, and smells like french fries?

The way Tom Hicks sees it, very soon, it could be the United States Navy.

We're just kidding about the french fry part, but Hicks, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, is serious about "enhancing energy security, energy independence and enhancing our warfighting capabilities." And for the Navy, that means focusing on alternative fuels.

"By the end of 2012," Hicks told Federal News Radio, "we will have tested and certified all of our surface vessels and all of our aircraft on a 50/50 blend of biofuels, and in the case of aircraft, jetfuel; and in the case of our surface ships, marine diesel."

Then the Navy plans to sail the Great Green Fleet, said Hicks, in local operations using an entire carrier strike group to demonstrate the use of alternative fuels.

The ultimate goal is to "by 2020, half of our energy will come from alternative sources."

To meet this goal, reports Xconomy, the Navy will need 336 million gallons of drop-in advanced biofuels every year.

Hicks credited work with industry when he said the Navy expects the fuels to be competitively priced with petroleum at that point.

Even more important than price is the ability to gas and go, said Hicks.

What's critical to this is that the fuels that we have, the blends that we're looking at have to be drop in replacements. We cannot look at making modifications to engines or aircraft or surface vessels in any way. It's really got to be drop in replacement so when the fuel's available and it's at the right price, we can put those into our tanks. And likewise, if they're not available, we can use petroleum as we have been.

Hicks said the fuels will be derived from a "range of feedstocks" including algae, camelina, jatropha and even rice, although not "competing for food" is one of the attributes the program is looking for, said Hicks.

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.