The Washington Times - October 5, 2009, 01:29PM

Several updates added to this post at 4:56 p.m.

Last Friday, The Watercooler posted questions regarding congressional earmarks assigned for green projects counting against the Defense Department budget.


The question of “why now?” still swirls unanswered, but a few congressman responded to our questions through spokespeople.

Sen. Kit Bond:

1.Military Installation Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project; $2 million

2. Stabilized Enzyme Biofuel Cell for Unmanned Ground Sensors; $1.5 million

Sen. Bond spokeswoman Shana Marchio said:

“Often, the most critical, cutting-edge research or equipment our troops in the field need is funded as a result of Congress listening to military leaders and exercising their Constitutional power of the purse, rather than allowing unelected bureaucrats to make a 100 percent of decisions on how taxpayer dollars should be spent.”

On Army Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project:

“There is no doubt that America’s dependence on foreign oil cartels for our energy is a national security concern.”

“…At the Pentagon’s request for proposals to address our nation’s energy needs, this project will facilitate research on electric vehicle, battery, and intelligent power management technologies with the goal of deploying more electric vehicles on military installations and reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign fuels while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
“These plug-in electric vehicles will have better interactions with the power grid.  The vehicle intelligence will be a part of a larger smart grid infrastructure, which will make the future grid more stable, efficient, and reliable.”

On Stabilized Enzyme Biofuel Cell (SEBC) for Unmanned Ground Sensors:

“In practical terms, this technology will mean a soldier won’t be in danger, exposed to the enemy and IED’s, to change a battery on a remote sensor every other day.  Also, y using this unique technology, power can be stored and accessed for significant periods of time, preventing the loss of needed defense capabilities to a variety of weapons used by the enemy, especially Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that use sensor technology against our troops.

Sen. Tim Johnson:

Renewable Jet Fuel from Lignocellulosic Feedstocks; $3 million

Sen. Johnson spokeswoman Julianne Fisher, said:

“The US Army at Army Research Lab (ARL) is currently developing concepts for the next generation of low cost and high efficiency Bio-JP8 fuel for the Future Combat System (FCS).”

“With the cost of JP-8 on the battlefield well over $100 per gallon, other alternative fuel sources are potentially becoming important solutions.”

“This research proposes to produce synthetic JP-8 fuel for blending in a fast pyrolysis process using prairie cordgrass and Cuphea.  Prairie cordgrass is a native grass that has recently received increased attention because of its biomass yield and its capacity to grow on marginal lands where other crops are not suitable.”

“…the objective will be to modify, through traditional and molecular breeding, the composition of prairie cordgrass in order to develop an optimal synthetic fuel for blending with JP-8.”

“A mix of this synthetic biofuels with small amounts of Cuphea oil derived from plant seeds will then be characterized to determine the attributes of this mix when blended with natural JP-8 fuel.”

Sen. Roger Wicker:

Sewage-Derived Biofuels Project; $4.8 million.

Sen. Wicker spokesman Jordan Stoick, said:

“The Air Force is the largest consumer of jet fuel in the world, resulting in a great cost to U.S. taxpayers.  This project  complements other green-fuels research being done by the Department of Defense  that have  demonstrated tremendous potential to help  significantly reduce  our military’s dependence on foreign oil.  The project would utilize existing wastewater treatment infrastructure across the country to create ‘bio-crude’ that could then be turned into jet fuel at a  projected  cost of $1.50 per gallon.”

On Sewage-Derived Biofuels Project:

“This is not start-up funding; this project has shown potential over a number of years.  It began with a DOE grant of $7 million in 2000 and has received subsequent government funding.”

Sounds impressive. But beyond the scientific jargon, will these projects yield tangible results?  Or are our troops being short changed?