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    Marines turn to alternatives to fuel coalition efforts



    Story by Sgt. Shawn Coolman  

    Regional Command Southwest

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – As a force in readiness, the Marine Corps can be called at moment’s notice to be deployed anywhere in the world. To power this moving mechanism, fuel has to be shipped, airlifted and moved across thousands of miles.

    The Regional Command Southwest expeditionary energy office is looking into ways to cut those expenditures with the use of alternative fuels.

    “Some of the projects we have going right now are solar flood lights, solar energy sets, solar blankets and water purification and we're really trying to see where that goes,” said Sgt. Brian Nelson, RC (SW) expeditionary energy chief.

    Nelson, 31, who holds a degree in chemical engineering from the University of New Hampshire, is heading up a biofuel project which, in its test phase, is using cotton seed oil to supplement JP8 fuel to run generators.

    “For the biofuel project, we bought some cotton seed oil from a factory in Lashkar Gah, and we brought that down to [Camp Leatherneck],” said Nelson, from North Falmouth, Mass. “We’re trying to supplement the Marine Corps’ fuel usage cutting it by 20 percent by throwing it in our generators and seeing how it burns and seeing what kind of outputs we can get.”

    Although the project is just in the test phase, it is seeing some promising results. During testing here Nelson has been able to effectively power a generator with the cotton seed oil/JP8 mix.

    But the chemical engineer says biofuel is just a small piece of the pie and all sorts of alternative energy are being looked into to see which one will be the front runner. The Marine Corps has to explore different alternative energy depending on where Marines may go.

    Exploring the use of biofuels doesn’t only benefit the Marine Corps, but in the long run it benefits the environment and economy where the Marine Corps may deploy to.

    “Cotton seed oil is not a limited resource, it’s not something that is millions of years old that were tapping in to, it’s something we can grow and continue to grow and use the fuel we generate from that,” said Nelson. “Were cutting the JP8 fuel use that we’re taking in by 20 percent.”

    Nelson also said that by growing cotton [coalition forces] can give the Afghans another commodity as well as improve their agriculture infrastructure and economy.

    As an expeditionary force, the Marine Corps has to have their fuel shipped to wherever they are in the world, and having the option to grow fuel has the potential of cutting fuel costs and the number of shipments to deployed units across the world.

    Nelson says that getting to the point where the Marine Corps is using biofuels on a normal basis is going to be a multiple-step process, but he is optimistic the efforts will fuel additional advances.



    Date Taken: 02.04.2011
    Date Posted: 02.04.2011 23:53
    Story ID: 64860

    Web Views: 284
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