I get a subscription to the Janes Defense newsletters. I only get the blurbs cause those are free. I can't afford the $1000 a year subscription so I couldn't read the story, but this was interseting:
USAF eyes coal-to-liquids plant in synthetic-fuel push
The US Air Force (USAF) is planning to issue a request for proposals (RfP) before the end of February for the construction of a coal-to-liquids plant at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The plant is part of a major push by the USAF to reduce its reliance on costly and politically risky imported petroleum-based jet fuel by creating a new synthetic fuel alternative
Apparently the military is starting to realize the fact that we are running out of oil and needs to get somethign started even if they make it themselves! This is significant by any stretch of the imagination. The military is actually going to start making its own fuel because it considers petrolium based fuel politically risky. That, and the oil running out.
This is an article from an ARAB business news site: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/1604
They are becomming concerned. The article states that during our operations in Kosovo in 1999, the use of jet fuel by the Air Force actually drove up prices there was so much used. The Air Force uses about half the fuel used by the US government. HALF! WOW!
This next article details parts of the proposal at Malstrom, which is located in Montana.
Apparently, the idea is to eventually have all bases in Coal producing areas self-contained. While not detailed in the articles I have consulted, the idea seems sound. You would have plants on all the bases in coal-rich areas. All you would need is to bring the coal in. The base would supply all the needs of its vehicles without resorting to imported supplies. Since most fuel comes over road, this would reduce costs, The synthetic fuel has advantages because it burns cleaner and at a lower temparature which is good for dodgeing heatseaking missiles and reduces metal fatague in jet engines.
The cost of manufacturing Synthetic fuels from coal has always been prohibitive until now. With Oil approaching $100 a barrel and poised to go over it, the cost has become competitive. The US sits on vast coal reserves and would be able to exploit those reserves through this process. However, the technology is a pollution concern in and of itself, so that is one drawback. We may have to weigh the tradoffs and further research is needed to make this a clean technology.