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Air Force Explores Algae & Corn Husks to Power Aircraft

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Air Force and airline officials said they want to develop alternative types of fuel to decrease their dependence on foreign oil. As part of that effort, three types of Air Force aircraft — the B-1, B-52 and C-17 — are certified to fly on a mixture of 50 percent conventional fuel and either 50 percent coal or 50 percent natural gas.

The Air Force has also flown B-2s, KC-135s, F-15s, F-22s as well as T-38 trainers on the 50-50 blends, and those aircraft are in the process of being certified to use those fuels, said Gary Strasburg, Air Force chief of environmental public affairs. Officials from the other branches could not be reached for comment.

“Developing these kinds of fuels from items that are available in the United States makes us less vulnerable,” Strasburg said. “We have a goal of having all aircraft in the Air Force certified to be able to fly on a 50-50 blend of synthetic fuel by 2011.”

But the military is also exploring the potential of using biofuels, which can be derived from plants, corn husks and algae. The Pentagon is working with the civilian airline industry as part of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, Strasburg said.

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