Friday, January 25, 2008

Air Force Interested in CTL Fuel Industry

The Air Force, in order to lower its dependence on foreign fuel sources, is looking into Coal-to-Liquid Fuel sources. According to Dr. Webber (lecture 4) the Air Force is one of the leading contributors of energy consumption in the military/government. Former Air Force Chief Energy Executive Ron Sega is now on the board of directors of Rentech, Inc., a "coal-to-liquids [CTL] fuel developer."

"The Air Force aims to act as a catalyst for the synthetic fuels industry by using its huge buying power to guarantee demand, service officials have said. Officials say that in the near term, coal is the only feedstock that can provide sufficient energy output from synthetic fuels, and will therefore be the dominant feedstock in the so-called "synfuels" program for the time-being."

This seems like a step in the right direction to reducing foreign fuel dependency, though it will come at a cost. Unless they plan using carbon capturing, this switch to CTL use "could release twice the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that petroleum-based fuels do."

There could also be a conflict of interest as Sega, formerly with the Air Force, now has ties with Rentech, the potential Air Force CTL supplier, but Rentech assures us that
"[t]hat is not why [they] put him on the board. He is just a very competent qualified person."

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