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USAF to Build Facility for Alternative Fuel Research

USAF to Build Facility for Alternative Fuel Research

The United States Air Force is the latest military branch to research alternative fuels

The United States Air Force hopes to conduct research related to alternative fuels that could one day help the military transition away from gasoline.

The $2.5 million Assured Aerospace Fuels Research Facility, located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is expected to be constructed by the end of summer 2010.  It is expected to develop around 15 to 25 gallons of research jet fuel composed of coal, biofuels, and other gas alternatives every day, with the help of private companies and university researchers.

There is an increased interest in reducing the nation's dependence on petroleum-based foreign fuel, and creating domestic biofuel resources is seen as an important step towards that goal.

"The Air Force Research Laboratory has been a center of excellence for fuel research, and this facility allows us to expand that into the alternative fuel arena," AF Research Laboratory engineer Tim Edwards told the AP.  "We expect a lot of graduate students from different universities to come here and for it to be used in collaboration with industry as well."

All branches of the U.S. military continue research into alternative fuels, as the government spends millions to fuel aircraft, ships, Humvees, and other necessary military vehicles.  The U.S. Army is currently working on a hybrid Humvee – it recently selected a contractor to help develop its battery -- and further work is expected to take place in the future.  The U.S. Navy also is interested in powering ships using algae or other biofuels, with research currently underway.

Any fuel breakthroughs made through the USAF facility could be shared with the private sector, helping airlines and other industries save money.

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