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Published on December 16th, 2011 | by Tina Casey

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Navy Pushes Algae Biofuel as Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Sputters

December 16th, 2011 by  


OriginOil partners in biorefinery development for Navy and NATO biofuel supplyWhile the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline is temporarily stalled, the U.S. Navy is helping to push the market for algae biofuel. That’s good news for the U.S. biofuel industry and it could also help influence the growth of the biofuel industry internationally as well, since the Navy is coordinating its biofuel program with NATO fuel standards. In the latest development, the algae biofuel company OriginOil has announced a multinational joint venture to develop biorefineries that would supply both the U.S. and NATO.

OriginOil and International Algae Standards

The new joint venture is called Future Energy Solutions, and it’s still in the early stages of lining up investors and planning feasibility studies. In the meantime, in support of the joint venture OriginOil has partnered with the Idaho National Laboratory to develop international standards for algae biomass. OriginOil will contribute its proprietary, high efficiency algae oil extraction technology, and INL will chip in with its advanced biofuel processing technology and other equipment.

Many Feedstocks, One Biofuel

While the emphasis of the INL partnership is on algae, one major aim of the project is to integrate different kinds of non-food feedstocks into standardized biofuels, which would help to scale up global biofuel production more rapidly than a single-feedstock focus. Part of the rush has to do with the Navy’s intention to ramp up its use of biofuel within the next few years, starting with a demonstration of its new Green Strike Group at the Rim of the Pacific exercise this summer in preparation for the launch of a Green Fleet in 2016.

Joining Forces for Biofuels

President Obama has also gathered support for the program in the form of a $510 million biofuel partnership between the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Navy. Aside from helping to ensure the armed forces a growing supply of domestic alternative fuel, the initiative is designed to help build sustainable economies in rural areas by creating permanent new jobs in biorefining, transportation and related operations.

Image: Navy tests algae biofuel, some rights reserved by Official U.S. Navy Imagery.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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