by Elco B
Sun Jun 11th, 2006 at 01:15:43 PM EST
When browsing US-aviation sites I came across this statement:
If I'm doing the math correctly (but someone might want to check me--it's been decades since I used numbers), the Air Force needs 8.8 million barrels of jet fuel a day to stay aloft, .4% of all the oil used in the world.
I have no idea if this statement is correct, but indeed intuition says , what the US Airforce is burning up, is probably a huge quantity. So , I looked for some figures.
Also I found something is moving in that 'market-niche'.
A US strategic bomber, a B-52, refuelling mid-air.
First I tried to find figures for the European Airforces, but this is not easy at all, I couln't find centralised figures. So I looked to the US. Their Airforce-fleet is larger than the combinded fleet of the EU-country's.
When an F-16 jetfighter lights up its afterburners(=full power), it consumes nearly 110 litres of fuel per minute
Such a jet burns more fuel in one hour than a average European car in one year
The US has more than 2000 f-16's in service, more than 1000 in other country's.
The Air Force consumed 3.2 billion gallons of aviation fuel in fiscal year 2005, which was 52.5 percent of all fossil fuel used by the government, Pentagon statistics show. The total Air Force bill for jet fuel last year topped $4.7 billion.
Although the share of national energy consumption by the federal government and the military is just 1.7 percent, every increase of $10 per barrel of oil drives up Air Force fuel costs by $600 million per year.
This are huge figures. War for oil is already a reality, but problems are becoming to big to only rely on war, so, now even the military are looking for alternatives.
In the last century, the Nazi military relied heavily on synthetic fuel derived from coal, and U.S. Gen. George S. Patton syphoned some of it to continue the march to Germany, according to the Department of Energy. The U.S. government showed interest in coal-to-liquid fuel during the 20th century but it was never fully developed.
Japan, during WWII:
Shortages of fuel were preventing its planes from flying more than two hours a month. Was there no other way to get oil? Desperate for fuel, the Navy launched its fantastic pine root campaign. Guided by the slogan, "two hundred pine roots will keep a plane in the air for an hour," people all over the Home Islands began to dig up pine roots. Children were dispatched to the countryside to scour for the roots. The pine roots were to be heated for twelve hours, producing a crude oil substitute. Thirty-four thousand kettles, stills, and small distillation units were put in place, with the aim of producing three or four gallons of oil per day. The futility of the effort was revealed by the labor requirements. Each gallon produced required 2.5 man-days of work. To meet the official target of twelve thousand barrels per day would have required 1.25 million persons per day!
An article from 8 juin summerizes the situation now :
Pentagon Plans Major Alternative Fuel Buys
The Defense Department is asking companies to submit proposals for supplying 200 million gallons of alternative or synthetic fuel in anticipation of major field tests of vehicles and vessels by the Air Force and Navy in 2008 and 2009. The field tests are part of a broader effort by the Pentagon to reduce its dependence on foreign oil with cleaner-burning fuels that would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The initial contract for unconventional fuel for the tests will be signed with Syntroleum Corporation of Tulsa, Okla., which has provided synthetic fuel for testing by the Departments of Energy, Transportation and Defense since 1998.
Syntroleum can produce 42 gallons of synthetic fuel from 10,000 cubic feet of natural gas. The raw materials cost about $70.
Mr. Holmes, CEO of Syntroleum :
If the military moves ahead with using the synthetic fuels, the Syntroleum technology could be used by factories elsewhere to produce the same 42 gallons of fuel from just $10 worth of coal.
The United States is essentially the Saudi Arabia of coal. It can be mined relatively inexpensively. We really believe that one of the things we can do to help our country's energy needs is to use the abundance of coal reserves.
My conclusions :
- First of all this:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed--those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending its money alone--it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. Dwight Eisenhower, Speech (1953)
- What frightens me : the US Airforce is the largest consumer of fuel. With their budget, they are now subsidizing those who will invest in gas and coal-based synthetic fuel plants. Soon this fuel will be available for other markets (civil aviation, cars ..) at a unreachable price for other alternatives.