Military Seeks Fuel Efficiency With Ships and Electric Vehicles

by | May 21, 2009

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navyshipNavy ships saved more than $79 million in fuel costs during the first and second quarters of fiscal year (FY) 2009 through the i-ENCON program, reports the Navel Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications. The achievement is touted as the largest cost savings in two quarters since the conservation program was implemented fleet wide in FY 1999.

The U.S. Navy has reduced its overall energy consumption level by 12 percent in 2008. Projects have centered on wind energy generation, solar photovoltaic systems, geothermal systems and ocean thermal energy conversion at military bases primarily in California.

The voluntary i-ENCON program is a major initiative of the Navy’s Energy Conservation (ENCON) Program, spearheaded by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to reduce the energy consumption of their ships. One of the ways NAVSEA’s i-ENCON measures fuel and cost avoidance is through “underburn,” the reported fuel rate for the quarter that’s below the ship class’ average burn rate, according to NAVSEA.

The cumulative underburn was 14.83 percent of the total first and second quarter fuel consumption, which translates into a savings of 682,000 barrels or $79 million. This exceeded the ENCON goal of 10 percent. For the navy, this means increased fleet readiness by saving enough fuel to support 14 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (at an average of 2,500 underway hours) per year.

This performance may be attributed to ships receiving $2 million in cash awards distributed in the fourth quarter of FY 2008 by the commander of Naval Surface Forces, reports NAVSEA. Award money is routed to each commanding officer’s discretionary funds, which are often used to buy items like damage control gear or to augment the ship’s welfare and recreation programs, according to NAVSEA.

The military is also looking at electric vehicles to save on fuel costs. Last December, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force announced plans to buy thousands of electric cars and light trucks to provide on-base transport. The deputy assistant Army secretary for energy and partnerships said the 4,000 electric cars, purchased over the next three years, will save 11.5 million gallons of fuel annually.

The armed forces may realize even more fuel savings if they add an Electric Hummer vehicle to purchase orders. Raser Technologies Inc. recently demonstrated a new 100 miles-per-gallon, extended-range electric Hummer H3 at the U.S. Capitol for Members of Congress.

The Electric Hummer H3 was developed by Raser Technologies and its integration partner FEV Inc. in cooperation with General Motors and its Hummer division. The full-size, four-wheel drive SUV can drive up to 40 miles per day in all-electric mode. For extended trips, an internal combustion engine (range extender) kicks in to recharge the batteries, says Raser Technologies.

The new vehicle can be used for fleets, contractors and small business owners. The company says it delivers the payload of a pickup truck with better fuel economy than a Prius.

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