U.S. Navy using Biodiesel Industries unit

Project could lead to use of portable biodiesel units on missions abroad
By | January 28, 2004
PORT HUENEME, Calif.-The largest diesel fuel user in the world is making a significant move in the drive for domestic energy security. Here at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in late October, U.S. Navy leaders announced plans to recycle the Navy's used cooking oil by processing it into biodiesel.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center (NFESC) has partnered with Santa Barbara-based Biodiesel Industries Inc., a biodiesel manufacturer and technology provider. Using a modular biodiesel processing unit, the base will collect its used cooking oil and transform it into biodiesel through a chemical process known as transesterification.

The U.S. Military is one of the largest users of B20, but this is the first attempt to create a self-sustaining plant. If the project is successful, ultimately the Navy could send portable biodiesel processing units overseas to produce its own fuel while on missions abroad.

"This is a win-win," said Kurt Buehler, chemical engineer at NFESC. "By producing our own biodiesel from used cooking oil, we can eliminate a solid waste disposal problem on [military] bases. In return, our diesel vehicles will burn cleaner, and we'll be using less foreign oil."

Joe Jobe, execuitive director of the National Biodiesel Board, said, "I think it is significant to note that the Navy is charged with protecting shipping routes to import petroleum to the United States. I admire the military leaders who have the foresight to use their existing resources to create cleaner burning biodiesel."

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Biodiesel Production Plant Validation Program was held on Oct. 30, at the naval base demonstration site in Port Hueneme.

The modular unit can produce as much as 100,000 gallons of biodiesel annually. The base itself plans on using 20,000 gallons per year, while Channel Islands National Park and Ventura County will also use 20,000 gallons annually.

"This is the culmination of four years of working with the U.S. Navy," said Russell Teall, president of Biodiesel Industries. "Our research and development of the Modular Production Unit has been completed and implemented in our civilian plants in Las Vegas and Australia. Now, with the cooperation of NFESC, we hope to continue making improvements so that it can soon be deployed at military installations around the world."

The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all use B20 at different bases and stations throughout the country, including: Camp Lejeune U.S. Marine Corps Base in North Carolina; Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Fort Leonard Wood Army Base in Missouri. Everett Naval Station, located in the Puget Sound area, has used about 50,000 gallons of B20 per year since 2001.

Sources: National Biodiesel Board, Biodiesel Industries, Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center
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