Navy concludes successful test of alternative fuel

navsealogoThe U.S. Navy successfully concluded its largest demonstration of shipboard alternative fuel use when the Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS) arrived at Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme, Calif.,  at 10:37 a.m. (PST), November 17 after a 17 hour transit from the Defense Fuel Supply Point at Naval Base Point Loma

The SDTS is a decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer, ex-Paul F. Foster (EDD 964). It has been reconfigured to provide the Navy with an at-sea, remotely controlled, engineering test and evaluation platform without the risk to personnel or operational assets. 

The ship received approximately 20,000 gallons of a 50-50 blend of an algae-derived, hydro-processed algal oil and petroleum F-76 from the Defense Fuel Supply Point at Naval Base Point Loma, November 16.

"How can we have an impact?" asked Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment) Jackalyne Pfannenstiel at the demonstration's kick-off.  "We can have an impact as a technology leader, highlighting and demonstrating the viability of biofuels as we are here today.  This demo, the largest to date, is a major milestone for us. More than 50 percent of our fuel goes to maritime use.  When this ship arrives in Port Hueneme, we will be a giant step closer to powering our Great Green Fleet and demonstrating progress toward a sustainable energy future."

Shortly after Assistant Secretary Pfannenstiel's remarks, the ship began its transit to Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme using the 50-50 blend.  While EDD 964 has four LM 2500 main propulsion gas turbines and four 501-K17 ship service gas turbine generators, the ship only operated on one LM 2500 and two 501-K17s during the demonstration, so 100 percent of ship's propulsion power and 50 percent of service power came from the algal oil/F-76 fuel blend.

Meeting the Secretary of the Navy's call for a drop-in fuel replacement, no changes were required to the infrastructure of the ship or fueling pier for the SDTS test.  The demonstration also marked the only at-sea operational test of alternative fuels in the LM 2500 – the engine found in most surface combatants – before the Green Strike Group demonstration in 2012.

"For the test, a baseline run was made on the ship's transit from Port Hueneme to San Diego using F-76 fuel," said Rick Kamin, Naval Fuels and Lubricants Cross Functional Team lead.  "Using the 50-50 blend on the return run to Port Hueneme, the tested engines were assessed on their abilities to perform start sequences as well as motoring and purging operations noted in Engineering Operational Sequencing System procedures.  We also collected data on compressor inlet temperature, engine speed, engine start time, fuel manifold pressure, turbine outlet temperature, turbine inlet temperature, ship service gas turbine generators power output, and gas turbine main engine shaft output."

"From our perspective as the ship's operators, there was absolutely no difference, whatsoever, in the operation or performance of the ship," said Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division's Mike Wolfe, underway project officer.  "The fuel burned just like the traditional fuel we get from the Navy and have been burning for years. We could not tell the difference.  The biggest success is that a Navy ship with engines identical to those in commissioned warships operated successfully on an overnight transit with the alternative fuel without a glitch in anything.  Operationally, it was absolutely a success."

The alternative fuels effort supports the Navy's overall energy strategy to increase energy security and safeguard the environment.  Recent and upcoming maritime vehicle alternative fuel testing include ongoing Yard Patrol boat demonstration at Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., and a Landing Craft, Air-Cushioned vessel demonstration scheduled for early December at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City, Panama City, Fla.

November 18, 2011

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