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U.S. Continues to Invest in Alternate Fuels

by: Matthew Potter
August 13, 2012

Category: Business Line, Companies, Congress, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Lockheed Martin, logistics, Services, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

The U.S. Department of Defense over the last few years has made some investments in alternate fuels and energy. Much of this has been driven by the needs of the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan for significant amounts of batteries and electrical power. They also spend billions a year on fossil fuels to move aircraft, vehicles, ships as well as generate electricity. The cost of the fuel as well as the effort spent transporting it has led to interest in alternate fuels.

While there have been some in Congress pushing back over the cost of the “green fuels” being developed for ships and aircraft that has not stopped continued interest in the different programs.

With that in mind two contracts were awarded recently to support fuel cell and solar power for the U.S. Navy.

The first is a $3.8 million effort to FuelCell Energy to test a fuel cell battery for different uses. These include running unmanned submersibles. Fuel cell like motors have been used to power torpedoes for years and this is just taking capability already developed for commercial applications and testing them with Navy systems.

The second is worth $3 million and is with Lockheed Martin (LMT). This is to develop a fuel cell power node to provide tactical power generation. The systems will also be integrated with solar power to provide other sources of electricity. The fuel cell will be compatible with standard JP-8 fuel used in vehicles.

While the costs of development for alternate fuels seem high especially with large amounts of fossil fuels remaining it is still overall a good investment for the U.S. military. If it can cost effectively reduce fuel requirements and transport it allows more capability for other important supplies. Long term the use of these types of power sources will be necessary as well.

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