WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will demonstrate the 'Green Hornet,' an F/A-18 Super Hornet powered by a 50/50 biofuel blend, on Earth Day, April 22, at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., as part of its Energy Strategy.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has made energy independence a top priority for the Department of the Navy (DoN), and the 'Green Hornet' flight is an important step in the certification and ultimate operational use of biofuels by the Navy and Marine Corps.
The 'Green Hornet' initiative supports Mabus' energy reform targets, which will increase warfighting capability by reducing reliance on fossil fuels from unstable locations and reducing volatility associated with long fuel supply transport lines. The secretary's energy reform targets include:
- By 2016, the Navy will sail a "Great Green Fleet" composed of nuclear ships, surface combatants with hybrid electric power systems using biofuel and aircraft flying on only biofuels.
- By 2020, at least half of the DoN's shore-based energy requirements will come from alternative sources and half of total DoN energy consumption will come from alternative sources.
"[The flight] will demonstrate that our systems can work on biofuel," Mabus said in his remarks at a recent energy forum at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md. "After it is successful, and we are absolutely confident that it will be; we will move to expand biofuel testing to our marine gas turbine engines and to the engines of our tactical vehicles."
The biofuel blend to be used in the Super Hornet is derived from the camelina sativa plant, which is a U.S.-grown, renewable, non-food source. The objective of the Navy's biofuel test flight program is to confirm there is no difference in performance between the biofuel blend derived from the camelina plant and standard petroleum-based JP-5. The Navy's ultimate goal is to develop protocols to certify alternative fuels for use in Naval Tactical systems.
The Navy Fuels Lab at NAVAIR Patuxent River, Md., will develop certification requirements for a variety of biofuel sources, including chemical properties, material compatibility, component and propulsion system performance and weapon system performance.
The Defense Energy Support Center, which oversees procurement of biofuel for the Navy, recently awarded a $2.7 million contract to Sustainable Oils of Seattle and Bozeman, Mont. for 40,000 gallons of the camelina-based fuel.
Mabus, as well as energy and environmental leaders from throughout the Department of the Navy, are scheduled be in attendance at the Earth Day flight demonstration. Distinguished visitors will have technical briefs and a tour before the flight demonstration, and will meet the aircraft's pilot immediately after.
"We are a better Navy and a better Marine Corps for innovation; we have led the world in the adoption of new energy strategies in the past," Mabus said at the Naval Energy Forum last year, when he announced his energy reform targets. "This is our legacy."
Green Hornet is an environmental and energy concept that reaches beyond the element of alternative fuels and encompasses efforts ranging from operational and policy through technology research and development. Examples of these efforts range from more energy efficient aircraft refueling policies implemented by the fleet at the Navy's master jet bases, to ongoing research and development efforts by NAVAIR and General Electric to evaluate more fuel efficient engine components. These engine improvements are designed to reduce the Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC) for the F414 (F/A-18E/F Super Hornet) engine. The Super Hornet is Naval Aviation's largest fuel consumer.
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