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13 April 2009

Pentagon Prioritizes Pursuit Of Alternative Fuel Sources

from Washington Post by Steve Vogel

For the Defense Department, the largest consumer of energy in the United States, addiction to fuel has greater costs than the roughly $18 billion the agency spent on it last year.

By some estimates, about half of the U.S. military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are related to attacks with improvised explosive devices on convoys, many of which are carrying fuel. As of March 20, 3,426 service members had been killed by hostile fire in Iraq, 1,823 of them victims of IEDs.

"Every time you bring a gallon of fuel forward, you have to send a convoy," said Alan R. Shaffer, director of defense research and engineering at the Pentagon. "That puts people's lives at risk."

Spurred by this grim reality, the Pentagon, which traditionally has not made saving energy much of a priority, has launched initiatives to find alternative fuel sources. The goals include saving money, preserving dwindling natural resources and lessening U.S. dependence on foreign sources.

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