Operation Soy Boat — Biodiesel For US Coast Guard

We don't write too often about the military. Maybe we are just jealous of their resources; how many wind turbines could you build, how many solar panels could you buy, how many bike path and public transportation infrastructure could you make, how far could battery technology be improved, how many hybrid vehicles could you subsidize (etc) with 1/100th of their budget? 1/10th? In a democracy, people are supposed to be able to have an influence on how their government uses the collective resources... But anyway, lets relegate politics to another time and have a look at this biofuel project by cadets. They are now working on the second phase of a study about the use of biodiesel in Coast Guard vessels after doing a "paper study" in 2000.A 41-foot utility boat, nicknamed "soy boat," was outfitted with twin engines fed by separate fuel tanks that cadets will use to run a side-by-side comparison of biodiesel to regular diesel. One of the engines now runs on a B20 blend of biodiesel fuel—consisting of 20 percent soy oil to 80 percent traditional diesel. Researchers have found that soy-based oil, a renewable resource, generally behaves better in cold weather when compared to most other forms of biodiesel fuels and is therefore the preferred choice of a non-petroleum based product for all-weather use. [...]

The cadets’ project is a joint collaboration between Coast Guard Office of Naval Engineering Environmental Division, Coast Guard Academy Mechanical Engineering section and the Coast Guard Academy waterfront division, all of who are actively participating in evaluating biodiesel as a viable fuel source for the Coast Guard. [...]

"The fuel [blend] significantly reduces the amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and sulfur emissions that enter the atmosphere," said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Ford, another mechanical engineer instructor here who has a keen interest in the project. "In addition, it has a higher amount of lubricity compared to petroleum diesel, so the time between engine overhauls should decrease."

Thanks to Chris Liendo for emailing us about this story.

::Cadets Launch Operation Soy Boat (page seems a bit flaky in Firefox)