Eielson Eyed for Alternative Fuel Plant

Eielson AFB, Alaska, is one of several potential USAF locations under consideration to host a coal-to-liquid-fuel conversion facility, USAF officials and lawmakers divulged last week. During a state energy summit in Fairbanks on July 18, organizers presented a construction proposal to have a CTL facility built on the base. Sen. Ted Stevens (R) said there is currently $10 million in the defense budget to develop the project. If built, it could produce approximately 20,000 to 40,000 barrels per day depending on its size, he said. The estimated costs to construct the plant would run between $3.5 billion and $6 billion, officials at the event said. The Air Force is working to make its entire fleet capable of flying on a 50/50 blend of synthetic and JP-8 fuel by the early part of next decade. This would contribute to lessening US dependence on foreign sources of energy. Under a refining process called the Fischer-Tropsch method, synthetic aviation fuel can be derived from natural gas and eventually coal, the latter of which the US has in abundant supply. Malmstrom AFB, Mont., is also under consideration for a CTL plant. (Includes Fairbanks report by A1C Jonathan Snyder)