The desire to reduce US dependence on foreign energy, ongoing environmental concerns, and the rising cost of petroleum have sparked significant development of greener alternative and renewable energy sources such as alcohol-based biofuels. To address these issues, the Department of Defense DOD has moved to diminish its reliance on petroleum for fueling aircraft and ground equipment. The US Air Force, in alignment with DOD objectives, has initiated several goals for reducing its use of energy: (1) decrease the use of petroleum-based fuel by 2 percent annually for the vehicle fleet, (2) increase the use of alternative fuel in motor vehicles annually by 10 percent, (3) certify all aircraft and weapon systems for a 5050 alternative fuel blend by 2011, and (4) have Air Force aircraft flying on 50 percent alternative fuel blends by 2016.1 This aggressive timetable moves the world s single largest petroleum consumer, the DOD, squarely into the alternative energies market. As the world s most prodigious fuel consumer, the DOD would likely drive segments of the aviation and motor fuels markets around the world to meet the demand for newly formulated alternative fuels and to convert existing fuel delivery systems to support the new market. Although conversion to alternative fuels can clearly lower the production of carbon dioxide, the risks that potential fuel spills pose to soil and groundwater are only now becoming clear.
Air and Space Power Journal
Goltz, M. N., Bleckmann, C., Mackay, D.M., Vuong, K. & McComb, J. P.. (2011). Unintended Consequences: Potential Downsides of the Air Force’s Conversion to Biofuels. Air and Space Power Journal, 25(2), 41–46.