The US Air Force has announced that it will carry out the first supersonic flight powered by Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) synthetic fuel tomorrow. A 1980s-vintage B-1 "Lancer" swing-wing bomber will take off from Dyess air force base in Texas, filled up with a 50/50 mix of ordinary petroleum jet juice and synthetic, and go supersonic …
to be fair
the us actually gets les of it;s oil from the middle east as europe and japan (80%) so it is more of a chavez thing
so we have the potential for an environmentally friendly war.
Oh deep joy.
In what sense is GTL environmentally friendly? Natural gas, i.e. the same stuff you get delivered to you by e-on/british gas/etc. is converted to a liquid fuel. Since it is still a finite resource and will release extra CO2 into the atmosphere, it will not be environmentally friendly.
What GTL does do is reduce the USA's overseas oil dependency, which unlike By ton suggests is actually around 60% of America's total oil supply.
It's NOT really GTL fuel then.
Just flying on BS.
The B-One isn't actually that old. 1980s is a new jet. Remember that most of our jets are F-15s and such which are 70s and 80s vintage. So is the newer F\A-18, which is from the 80s.
There's of course a never ending stream of new versions of the F-16 and Su-27. They're new versions yes but they're based on jets from the 70s and 80s again.
The bulk of development got cut off after the cold war. We had well over a hundred fighters put out before the 80s, all the way up to the F-111 before they started the scheme over again and got all the way up to F-16.
~Since~ the 80s we've had... The F\A-18, F-22, Super-F\A-18 and the F-15E. Four new fighters in the past two decades, and two of them are updates to older ones.
Point is, "80s vintage" is new in this market. (And yes I know the B-One is a bomber, but we haven't had many new bombers either.)
P.S. According to Wikipedia there's a proposed updated version, the B-One-R.
But I'm sure the current version is still more than capable of boning anyone, any time, anywhere.
@Anonymous Coward re: @Peter Fielden-Weston
I think he's referring to the last line of the article:
"And indeed, the US military is also seeking tech which could get jetfuel from alternative feedstocks - such as algae scum or even mushrooms - which could potentially be carbon-neutral one day."
Actually the B-1 was conceived in the 70s, got cancelled as the B-1A and then revived in the 80s as the B-1B I believe. So it is fairly old, certainly compared to the Eurofighter, Rafale, Raptor, Predator et al. Though as you say, most air forces are mainly fielding older gear.
The first USAF synthifuel trial was on the B-52, an even older dog.
The fleet of F1-B's aren't supersonic. That capability was ditched in the B1-A to B1-B redesign of various things, including the engine inlets. While they might make booms in a dive, the test flight isn't going to.
So, the headline is, um, wrong.
I'm wrong, wrong, wrong!
Bollocks -- I'm wrong. The B1-A does have modest supersonic capability, M1.25 at altitude. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-1_Lancer
"Unlike the B-1A, the B-1B made no attempt at Mach 2+ speeds. Its maximum speed at altitude is Mach 1.25 (about 950 mph or 1,530 km/h), but its low-level speed increased to Mach 0.92 (700 mph, 1,130 km/h). Technically, the current version of the aircraft can exceed its speed restriction, but not without risking potential damage to its structure and air intakes."
And last time I looked, it was the Persian Gulf, not the Persian/Arabian Gulf or Arabian Gulf! What is this renaming conspiracy all about?
Because that's what the B-52 is... They've been around for bloody ages and as it stands, they'll likely still be around for a while to come.
Old as it might be though, there's a few things the B-52 does good and it does them REALLY good.
From New Scientist last week:
"The idea is simple. Find a way of removing an oxygen atom from a CO2 molecule and you are left with carbon monoxide (CO). From there it is but a short step to hydrocarbon riches. Mix CO with hydrogen, pass the mixture over a catalyst, and out comes liquid hydrocarbon fuel. This reaction, called the Fischer-Tropsch process, was invented as long ago as the 1920s. It was used by Germany during the second world war, when oil was in short supply, to make petrol from gasified coal, and apartheid-era South Africa did the same when sanctions blocked oil imports."
(http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19726451.600-turning-cosub2sub-back-into-hydrocarbons.html -- you'll need to subscribe to read the whole article though... Maybe El Reg can use their reprint rights on your behalf...)
So, I'm guessing while you can use natural gas or coal as your source of hydrogen, thats more for convenience and even then environmentally its not as bad as some have assumed... (as they use atmospheric CO2 at the front end of the process).
They know something you don't
Specifically, they know about peak oil.
The US military is the world's biggest single consumer of oil. They take a very long term view of things, and have money to burn. They know oil won't last for ever.
The second world war was won by controlling access to energy supplies. To a large extent it was a FOR those energy suppies. Without oil the military has been so much scrap metal for a century.
Recession and banking collapses not withstanding, oil is over $100 £50 / barrel. It is NOT going to get cheaper.
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