This could really change the global landscape.
Syntroleum (Nasdaq:SYNM), a leader in Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology, announced today that its ultra-clean jet fuel has been successfully tested in a United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress Bomber aircraft. The plane lifted off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., with a 50/50 blend of FT and traditional JP-8 jet fuel which was burned in two of the eight engines on the plane. This marks the first time that FT jet fuel has been tested in a military flight demo, and is the first of several planned test flights. This landmark event is a result of more than four years of successful research and development efforts with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), focused on producing a high performance alternative fuel for military applications.
The jet fuel that was used today was produced from natural gas using Syntroleum’s proprietary FT process, but the company believes the fuel can also be produced from the vast domestic coal resources. The potential to produce these fuels from domestic resources and the opportunity for long-term supply agreements with the DOD provides a mechanism for diversifying the nation’s energy supply and increasing domestic job growth. In addition to military applications, successful testing of Syntroleum’s FT jet fuel could lead to opportunities with commercial airlines.
Not only is it clean-burning (translation: better for the environment), but it could reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
One company is already looking to build the nation’s first clean-coal power plant.
Xcel said Tuesday that it is committing $3.5 million for preliminary development of a new breed of power plant that would convert coal to gas for its fuel, delivering far fewer pollutants into the air and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
So what does this mean for us? Considering the U.S. has one of the largest reserves of coal on the planet, it means we could theoretically end our import of oil from the middle east completely.
Coal is found on every continent, and world coal reserves exceed 1 trillion tons. However, the largest reserves are found in the U.S., former Soviet Union, and China. The U.S. and former Soviet Union each have about 23% of the world’s reserves, and China has about 11%.
Today’s test wasn’t the first time our military used alternative fuels…
In 1944 General George S. Patton’s Third Army was racing across southern France. In his haste to be the first U.S. commander to cross into Germany, however, Patton overextended his supply lines. His armored columns ground to a dead stop. Faced the choice of waiting until he could be resupplied or draining the fuel of captured German vehicles, Patton chose the latter. His tanks and armored personnel carriers continued to steamroll toward Germany, powered by the German’s own ersatz gasoline – synthetic fuel manufactured from coal.
As Paul puts it:
If we continue to use coal at the same rate as we do today, we will have enough coal to last for about 285 years. That is 285 years we can tell President Ahmadinejad of Iran, to go to hell.
Would be nice.