Defense

July 18, 2012

USS Nimitz first to test use of aviation biofuels

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By PO3 Devin Wray
USS Nimitz

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz transits the Pacific Ocean. Nimitz is underway conducting carrier qualifications in preparation for Rim of the Pacific 2012, the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz was the first ship to receive and test the use of a new blend of hydro processed renewable jet (HRJ-5) and aviation (JP-5) fuel on aircraft July 17, as part of the Navy’s Great Green Fleet demonstration.

Approximately 450,000 gallons of 100 percent “neat” biofuel were purchased in 2011 in preparation for the demonstration. The demonstration serves as another milestone in the Navy’s pursuit to improve combat capability through improved energy efficiency measures by investing in advanced biofuels that are domestically produced.

“It’s a step towards energy independence,” said Cmdr. Michael Maxwell, Nimitz’ Mini Boss. “If we can prove that it works for air operations, then we will be able to mass produce it here in the U.S.”

The fuel, provided by Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser, will be used on board Nimitz to fuel multiple aircraft such as the F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets, E-2 Hawkeyes, EA-6 Prowler, and SH-60 Seahawk during the demo.

“We expect the fuel to give the same results as any other fuel we use,” said Maxwell. “The only difference is that it will be cleaner.”

The biofuel has been used by shore commands including the Blue Angels for approximately a year. Before the demonstration, the Nimitz will have to test the fuel to ensure the transfer to the ships holding tanks is effective and causes no changes to the fuel.

“We’ll be the first to test it at sea,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Joshua Palomares, a fuel lab technician aboard Nimitz. “If we can prove it can be used in a multitude of aircraft, this will become the new standard in naval aviation at sea.”

The blends are a 50 percent mixture of biofuel, made from animal waste fat, algae and aviation fuel.

Nimitz, along with Carrier Air Wing Eleven, USS Chafee, USS Chung Hoon, USS Princeton, and Kaiser are participating in the demonstration during the 2012 Rim of the Pacific exercise.

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in the RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.




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