San Diego Business Journal

Harsh Weather Puts Navy’s Biofuels Announcement on Hold

By Brad Graves Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The U.S. Navy plans to continue its experiment with biofuels, but details will have to wait.

The service cancelled a Dec. 10 procurement announcement to the biotechnology community in San Diego, citing the government closure because of bad weather in Washington, D.C.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were to announce procurement opportunities for advanced biofuel, via a teleconference link, to delegates of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter. There was no word on when the announcement would be rescheduled.

San Diego businesses such as General Atomics, Sapphire Energy Inc. and SG Biofuels have been researching ways to produce plant- or algae-based fuel for use throughout the U.S. Defense Department.

The Navy has run both aircraft and ships with fuel derived from organisms such as algae, often mixing it 50-50 with conventional fuel, in controlled experiments. An F/A-18 jet that flew with biofuels was dubbed the Green Hornet.

Since biofuels cost much more than petroleum products, the efforts have been controversial. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has called the biofuel experiments a waste of money.

All federal government offices in Washington, D.C., were closed Dec. 10, as the entire Atlantic Coast was under snow and rain.