The U.S. Navy announced it ran successful tests on a new shipboard fuel blending petroleum and renewable marine diesel derived from algae.
Navy frigate USS Ford sailed from its homeport in Everett, Wash., to San Diego with 25,000 gallons of the blend firing up the ship's diesel turbines.
The algal fuel was developed by Solazyme, Inc., a renewable oil and bioproducts company, as part of a strategic defense effort seeking to reduce dependence on imported hydrocarbons.
Solazyme's Soladiesel HRD-76, derived 100 percent from algae, was blended with petroleum F-76, the primary shipboard fuel used by the Navy, for the ship's LM 2500 diesel turbines, Solazyme said.
Use of the 50-50 blend required no changes to the frigate's infrastructure or the drop-in fueling pier used for the test.
Last September the company announced a U.S. Department of Defense contract for a research-and-development project calling for additional production of a 100 percent microbial-derived, non-alcohol advanced biofuel.
The algae-based fuel has raised hopes that more attention can be focused on producing renewable energy from abundant marine resources and wean investors from biofuels that in recent years have claimed land cultivated for food.
The operational performance of the fuel system and gas turbine engines on the 50-50 blend has been comparable to operations on traditional petroleum F-76.
The company said the Navy was already using the fuel on different ships.
"The U.S. Navy continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of our fuel in multiple vessels and we are honored to have the opportunity to assist with efforts to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels," Solazyme Chief Commercialization Officer Rogerio Manso said.
"We view these successful tests as an important step toward the commercialization of our renewable fuels."
Solazyme completed delivery of more than 132,086 gallons of in-specification fuel to the Navy, including the largest deliveries of microbial derived advanced biofuels in history.
In December, Dynamic Fuels, LLC, a joint venture between Tyson Foods, Inc. and Syntroleum Corp. announced it was awarded a contract to supply the Navy with 450,000 gallons of renewable fuels.
Solazyme is working with Dynamic Fuels to fulfill the contract and delivery to the U.S. Navy is scheduled for May. It is the single largest purchase of advanced biofuel in government history.
Solazyme says its renewable diesel and jet fuels meet all of the military specifications for diesel, marine diesel and jet biofuels set by the EU and American Society for Testing and Materials.
Solazyme has headquarters in South San Francisco, Calif., and operates a global renewable products business drawing on petroleum, plants and animal fats as sources of energy.
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(Originally published March 14, 2012, by UPI.)